February 7, 2014, 10:09 AM

Wal-Mart opens a second e-commerce office in Silicon Valley

The new Sunnyvale operation could help the retail chain attract more engineers. The office is roughly 30 miles away from the chain's San Bruno operation, which houses the @WalMartLabs e-commerce development division. Staples is among the chains that operate e-commerce tech centers.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has planted another e-commerce flag in Silicon Valley.

The retail chain, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2013 Top 500 Guide, this week opened an office for its Walmart Global eCommerce unit in Sunnyvale, CA . Workers there will work on projects related to online and mobile shopping. The chain already operates a similar office in San Bruno, CA, located south of San Francisco, on the peninsula along the western edge of San Francisco Bay. The two cities are approximately 30 miles apart.

Nearly 500 employees already work in the Sunnyvale office, located near the southern edge of San Francisco Bay, though the retailer plans to eventually employ up to 1,000 professionals there, a Wal-Mart spokesman says. The San Bruno office employs about 1,500 professionals.

Though both offices reside among one of the heaviest concentrations of technological talent in the world, the new location offers an advantage, the spokesman says.

“We chose Sunnyvale to take advantage of the talent density in the South Bay,” the spokesman says. “San Francisco and the peninsula tend to offer design, app and [user interface] talent, and though there’s plenty of tech talent there, the South Bay has a higher concentration of engineers and technologists. We’re expanding to South Bay to geographically target this different skill set.”

That doesn’t mean Wal-Mart will automatically have an easy time luring top talent, especially as e-commerce operators such as eBay Inc. and Google Inc. continue to vie for local professionals, to say nothing of Amazon.com Inc., (No. 1 in the Top 500 Guide) also headquartered along the West Coast, though further north in Washington state. As well, major retail chains such as Target Corp. (No. 18) and Staples Inc. (No. 2) operate e-commerce tech centers similar to Wal-Mart’s effort.

“Competition for tech talent here is fierce, but we're able to attract and retain talent because of our nimble, startup like culture, and the opportunity for technologists to innovate at a global scale only Wal-Mart can offer,” the spokesman says. He adds the chain last summer interviewed 10 candidates for every e-commerce professional it hired. “We had a 94% acceptance rate for our job offers.”

The new office open as the retail chain continues to expand its e-commerce capabilities, including through its @WalMartLabs division, based in San Bruno and charged with e-commerce research and development.

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