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Walmart Acquires Bolt Systems To Advance Omnichannel Capabilities

has acquired Volt Systems, a technology company that provides suppliers with enhanced on-demand visibility into merchandising resources, and reaffirms the retailer’s goal of giving customers an omnichannel shopping experience that’s seamless.

The application optimizes the product assortment by making available current store-level data, actionable analytics, and shelf intelligence for suppliers to plan and forecast to reduce out-of-stocks, which many retailers have been grappling with during the Covid-19 pandemic. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“The deal affirms Walmart’s continued investment in technology and innovation that enables us to better anticipate customer demand,” the retailer said. “We’re acquiring Volt Systems outright, including the company, talent, technology, and customer agreements.”

Walmart has been doubling down on technology, a strategy that’s been accelerated by the pandemic. The retailer had been rebuilding its technology platforms and capabilities with acquisitions, however the Volt purchase is different than some of the sexy purchases Walmart made when Marc Lore was heading ecommerce.

Lore, who joined Walmart in 2016 when the retailer bought his Jet.com for 3.3 billion, went on a buying spree, snatching up online retailers such as Modcloth, which was ultimately sold. Bonobos fared better. It was acquired in 2017 for $317 million, and recently launched a new brand, Bonobos Fielder, which is sold online on the retailer’s web site.

The former ecommerce ceo helped Walmart grow ecommerce sales by 79% in its last fiscal year, which ended January 24, 2021. Ecommerce went from being an afterthought to become one of the top U.S. online retailers behind Amazon
. Walmart is also leveraging its network of stores for buy online, pick up in store, which are in proximity to a majority of the U.S. population.

Walmart made many other investments in technology, including launching a tech-powered IRL [in real life] store and Store No 8, its ring-fenced entity for developing leading technologies for the future. For example, Store No 8 tested conversational commerce and launched VR startup Spatial&.

Not everyone is thrilled about the Volt acquisition. Carol Spieckerman, president of Spieckerman Retail, said, “The framing of the Volt acquisition seems pedestrian, with the promise to enhance on-demand visibility into merchandising resources and deliver actionable analytics. Yet, given Walmart’s existing resources and the number of third-party analytics providers clamoring for Walmart’s business, Volt must bring something special to the table.

“Walmart can cobble together any number of partnerships to keep its omnichannel engines humming; the decision to make an outright acquisition attests to Walmart’s intention to own its next-level analytics capabilities,” Spieckerman added. “The timing seems auspicious given Walmart’s recent investments in augmented reality, supply chain technology, and fulfillment capabilities. The Volt acquisition can help pull these and other initiatives together and draw meaningful and actionable insights across the enterprise.”