New Retail Briefing #3: Walmart China Eyes Retail Innovation; A.S. Watson and Unilever Agree to New Retail Partnerships


Key Points

“New Retail” is a model for integrating online retail, offline retail and logistics across a single value chain powered by data and technology. In this biweekly series, we cover important developments on New Retail in China. 

  • Walmart China launched “Omega8,” an initiative to help tech startups test technology projects.
  • Beauty and health retailer A.S. Watson and Netease’s Yanxuan opened a lifestyle store in Guangzhou.
  • Unilever signed a cooperation agreement with JD Supermarket to develop its New Retail capabilities, including developing new products based on consumer behavior data.

Walmart China launched the Omega8 initiative in January 2019 to serve as a proof of concept (POC) platform that lets tech startups test newly designed technology applications in a real retail environment. Walmart reported over 50 startups signed up for the initiative. Walmart will train these companies in a variety of retail operation skills. Walmart said its existing 400 offline stores in China will act as testing grounds for startup technology before rolling out to mass market.

This Omega8 initiative shows Walmart’s ambition of leveraging tech startups for its own digital innovation, and understanding of the Chinese market. Ben Hassing, Senior Vice President of Walmart China said, “Walmart has worked with many technology startups not only to propel our business in China, but also to understand the Chinese market and China in greater depth.”

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