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January 10, 2024

Walmart Details How Tech Will Boost Operations

Posted In: Retail Articles

Walmart is providing insights into how it will apply technology to enable the company to pursue a new type of commerce, one that is customer-centric, interconnected, frictionless, and consistently exceeds expectations.

In so doing, Walmart outlined a plan for ongoing innovation in technology that can benefit customers and members, employees and society.

Doug McMillon, president and CEO, Walmart, detailed company thinking on technology during a presentation at the Consumer Electronics Show. “We build technology to serve people and not the other way around. Walmart’s purpose is to help people live better, and today, more than ever, advances in technology make it feel like anything is possible. Our technology roadmap is compelling, and we’re very excited about it, but we’re clear that we are a people-led, tech-powered company. People, our customers and associates, come first and we’ll put technology to work to serve them better than ever.”

Walmart pointed out how technologies such as AI, GenAI, and AR will redefine its role as a shopping destination by serving as a customer concierge and helping consumers satisfy their shopping goals, among other functions.

Walmart noted that its tech initiatives have allowed it to offer:

  • A new GenAI-powered search experience, available now to iOS customers, that allows consumers to search by specific use cases such as a football watch party. Technology aids the search engine in generating appropriate cross-category results that meet the overall needs of party hosting and negate the requirement of searching for individual items such as chips, wings, drinks and even a 90-inch TV.
  • A sneak peek into Walmart InHome Replenishment, which uses AI and Walmart expertise to ensure customers’ online shopping carts are filled with the right items at the right time and delivered to a refrigerator in a kitchen or garage.
  • A beta social commerce platform called Shop with Friends uses AR to enable consumers to share the virtual outfits they create with friends and get feedback on their fashion finds.

Adaptive retail is not just limited to search and discovery, Walmart insisted. More broadly, it’s about creating personalized, seamless and flexible shopping experiences from start to finish.

For its part, Sam’s Club is unveiling a new technology that aims to solve a key concern for its members: waiting in line for receipt verification when they exit stores. The technology uses a unique application of AI and computer vision technology to deliver higher levels of convenience as shoppers exit a Sam’s Club.

“While omnichannel retail has been around for decades, this new type of retail, adaptive retail, takes it a step further,” said Suresh Kumar, Walmart global chief technology officer and chief development officer. “It’s retail that is not only e-commerce or in-store but a single, unified retail experience that seamlessly blends the best aspects of all channels. And for Walmart, adaptive retail is rooted in a clear focus on people.”

Other initiatives Walmart announced include an advance in drone delivery that will expand the service to 1.8 million additional households in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex across 75% of the geography. Of the 120,000 items in a Walmart supercenter, the company maintained that three-quarters meet the size and weight requirements for drone delivery.

As for employees, Walmart has already rolled out a GenAI tool for U.S. and Canadian associates working on its administrative campuses. Dubbed My Assistant, the company’s tech team created it in-house. In the next phase, Walmart will expand its My Assistant tool in the year ahead so that campus associates in 11 countries can interact with the application in their native languages. My Assistant is changing how associates work and solve problems, Walmart asserted, from speeding up the drafting process to serving as a creative partner to summarizing large documents, 

As it has advanced environmental programs over the years, which includes powering more than 47% of its operations with renewable energy and tracking to power more than 50% by 2025 and 100% by 2035, Walmart intends to advance its transition toward emissions-free energy by enabling up to 10 gigawatts of new clean energy projects into service on- and off-site, the equivalent of the annual power consumption of more than 2 million households.

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