Walmart’s Using AI For a New Era of Shopping

The retail giant unveils a suite of “customer friendly” AI tools at the 2024 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week.

Being the world’s biggest retailer has its advantages, one of which is having the financial resources to invest heavily in artificial intelligence.

Walmart has made that advantage crystal clear at the 2024 CES technology consumer electronics show in Las Vegas, rolling out a new set of AI tools designed to make consumer shopping experiences easier and more efficient.

Walmart is one retailer that lives by the adage, “the customer is always right” and it’s using AI to illustrate that point.

“We build technology to serve people and not the other way around,” said Doug McMillon, president and CEO, of Walmart Inc. “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.”

What is Walmart offering at CES?

Here’s a snapshot . . .
• The retailer is releasing a new GenAI-powered search experience to iOS customers. “The enhanced search experience allows customers to now search by specific use cases, such as a football watch party versus individual searches for chips, wings, drinks, and a 90-inch TV. It generates relevant, cross-category results,” the company notes in a statement.
• Walmart also unveiled its new Walmart InHome Replenishment technology tool, which “ensures 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 new apparel tool called Shop with Friends that allows customers to use augmented reality to share virtual outfits they create with friends and get immediate feedback.

At CES, the retailer’s Sam’s Club subsidiary also announced a new AI-powered receipt verification that scans a customer’s shopping receipt on the fly, thus avoiding a wait while a human employee manually checks receipts on the way out of the store.

Walmart is also expanding its drone delivery to 1.8 million new households in and around the Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas area in 2024. That should help Walmart fulfill its promise of 30-minute grocery drone deliveries, as 75% of grocery items will be available in nearby Walmart Supercenters. The retailer expects to expand its 30-minute delivery concept to new urban areas later this year.

More AI On the Way

Walmart believes artificial intelligence can help the company expand its “customer first” concepts in ways that couldn’t have been imagined 10 years ago.

“AI probably infiltrates almost every area across our business from how we do the work we do to how we support the customers and members we have to the actual member experience itself,” said Cheryl Ainoa, Sam’s Club executive vice president and chief technology officer in an interview with FOX Business at CES 2024.

Ainoa points to an automated floor scrubber that before was limited to visually mapping out key areas of a store to handle spills and other “front-of-the-store” customer service issues.

With AI software injected into the scrubber, Sam’s Club says the machine has new features to help customers.

“Since we had the cameras and the information, we started using it to do inventory and be able to track for us – where do we have gaps in our inventory, where do we need to fill items in the store, where is there work that needs to be done,” Ainoa said.

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