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Report: Wal-Mart subsidiary Code Eight working on two high-tech retail formats

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s newly established subsidiary Code Eight is testing a service that lets customers buy items and get product recommendations via text messages, Recode reported Dec. 20, citing unnamed sources.

Code Eight is also working on a project to create physical stores that would operate without checkout lines or cashiers and deploy technologies like computer vision, Recode reported. This "Project Kepler" is still in the works but is meant to rival Amazon.com Inc.'s automated Amazon Go store, which has yet to launch, according to the report. Jet.com Inc. founder and former chief technology officer Mike Hanrahan is leading the project, Recode reported.

The text message service asks customers to place orders by taking photos of products or placing more general requests for the kinds of products they want, Recode reported, adding that the service targets the "high net worth urban consumer," which is not a traditional Wal-Mart customer.