Target (NYSE: TGT), Kohl's (NYSE: KSS), Walmart (NYSE: WMT) and other major U.S. retailers are using dedicated test labs in Silicon Valley to boost their customers' mobile shopping experience and improve their web sites.
"Consumers expect immediate gratification," Lori Schafer, executive adviser at SAS Institute, which creates software for retailers, told Associated Press. As a result, she says retailers need to develop technology in weeks, instead of months or years.
Walmart was the first to open a testing lab, Walmart Labs, in Silicon Valley in 2011, where it tested a re-launch of its web site's search engine. Then, the research lab developed technology that enables Walmart's mobile app to better guide shoppers to products and track customers' spending based on a predetermined budget.
Walmart executives are so pleased with the results from WalmartLabs that the global retail giant plans to open another tech office in nearby Sunnyvale in January, in addition to its other labs in the U.S. "We are not a retailer in Silicon Valley," Neil Ashe, CEO of Walmart's global e-commerce operations, told Associated Press. "We are building an Internet technology company inside the largest retailer."
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