How Walmart’s Sparkcubate program drives early stage innovations

A person clicking on the word AI on a touch screen

Walmart works every day to unlock value through transformative experiences—no matter how customers choose to shop. That’s why we build in-house, quality tech solutions, and why just two years ago we created Sparkcubate, a team within Walmart that identifies start-ups and companies who can inject energy into early-stage innovations. With the partnerships Sparkcubate has created, Walmart has graduated more than a dozen projects from their pilot phase.

One example is Sparkcubate’s partnership with Labelbox, a leader in building intelligent applications. As Walmart continues to invest in chatbot capabilities, Labelbox provides a labeling interface optimized for conversations with a high degree of consistency and quality control. In other words, Labelbox helps boost Walmart’s machine learning models with a data-centric approach. By applying labels to conversations, Walmart’s conversational AI models become stronger and more natural over time. And, better conversational AI models means happier customers.

One example of Labelbox helping improve Walmart’s conversational AI models is through quality control. Conversational AI for retail is incredibly complex, as products, types of products and brands must be labeled to effectively fulfill what a customer wants to order. A Text-to-Shop customer may want to order not only milk, but organic milk—further, Great Value organic milk. Each of these specifications requires a label, and Labelbox allows Walmart teams to determine whether or not our conversational AI correctly identifies that product for the customer.

“Conversational AI is a very exciting and challenging field, because large language models are extremely sensitive to data quality,” shared Philippe Hanrigou, a Walmart director of data-science dedicated to conversational AI and chatbots. “Labelbox is a gamechanger because of the quality of the labels we can now acquire for our models. It’s hard to imagine a life now without Labelbox.”

Now, Labelbox helps hone the technology that powers Walmart’s Text to Shop platform, customer service platforms, and more. A critical piece of Walmart’s data engine puzzle, Labelbox benefits from the Sparkcubate team’s evaluation, pilot, and finally, introduction to other Walmart teams it can help power.

Have a startup that’s innovating and helping solve customer needs in retail? Reach out to the Sparkcubate team at

For more information on the Sparkcubate Program, please click here.