Published on February 15, 2024, 4:06 am

Harnessing Generative Ai: How Walmart Is Transforming Retail

Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, is no stranger to embracing new technologies and taking advantage of digital innovation. In particular, Walmart has been making great strides in the realm of generative AI, utilizing this transformative technology to enhance its performance and provide an improved shopping experience for customers. Let’s take a closer look at some of the remarkable ways in which Walmart is deploying generative AI throughout its operations.

One area where Walmart is leveraging generative AI is in improving the shopping experience for its customers. Recognizing that much of grocery shopping involves purchasing the same items on a regular basis, Walmart has introduced voice shopping as a convenient way for customers to reorder common items. Through the Walmart Voice Order service, customers can simply use their mobile devices or home smart speakers to verbally request products. For example, by saying “Hey Google, please add a dozen eggs to my cart,” the system will understand the request, identify the customer’s preferred brand based on previous purchases, and add the item accordingly. This voice-activated shopping feature provides a seamless and effortless experience for customers.

Another innovative feature Walmart offers is Text to Shop, allowing customers to communicate with Walmart through text messages. Using conversational AI technology, customers can easily search for products, add or remove items from their cart, reorder products they have purchased before, and even schedule a delivery or pickup. This text-based chat functionality streamlines the shopping process and offers convenience to busy individuals who prefer texting over other communication methods.

Walmart is also introducing an online AI shopping assistant aimed at helping shoppers find the best products suited to their needs or plan special events. Whether it’s organizing a superhero-themed party for a six-year-old or finding a fun Halloween costume for a teenager, this tool recommends relevant and related products without requiring users to perform multiple individual searches. This personalized assistance simplifies product discovery and enhances customer satisfaction.

Voice assistants powered by generative AI are not only benefiting Walmart’s customers but also its in-store associates. Walmart has implemented a conversational AI assistant named Ask Sam to assist employees with various inquiries they may have while on the job. Associates can ask questions like “What aisle is cinnamon located in?” or request information about product prices or their work schedules. This AI helper provides real-time assistance and makes it easier for employees to locate information, ultimately improving their productivity and overall efficiency.

Moreover, generative AI enables Walmart to enhance its customer service by automating certain support requests using intelligent and human-like chatbots. Unlike traditional chatbots, generative AI-powered ones possess advanced capabilities that allow them to interpret and respond intelligently to customer queries. Since its implementation in 2020, this technology has successfully reduced millions of customer contacts related to returns, order status, and other inquiries across multiple countries where Walmart operates, including the United States, Canada, Mexico, Chile, and India. By providing timely answers and efficient solutions through real-time conversations, Walmart ensures a higher level of customer satisfaction.

Beyond customer interactions, Walmart also explores the potential of generative AI in automating supplier negotiations. The company conducted trials using a generative AI chatbot to negotiate deals with 89 suppliers of various items such as shopping carts and store equipment. Surprisingly, the chatbot closed deals with 64 percent of the suppliers, delivering an average cost saving of 1.5 percent and obtaining an extension of payment terms by an additional 35 days. This successful outcome demonstrates that automated negotiations not only result in better terms for Walmart but also provide a positive experience for vendors involved.

Interestingly enough, Walmart is actively involving its employees in determining the most effective applications for generative AI within its operations. Through My Assistant, a generative AI tool developed by Walmart, employees working at corporate facilities are invited to explore practical ways in which this technology can alleviate monotonous tasks and increase focus on enhancing the overall customer experience. This approach allows Walmart to tap into the creativity and expertise of its wide pool of employees, fostering a collaborative environment where ideas for generative AI implementation are crowd-sourced from within the company itself.

It is truly inspiring to see how Walmart is integrating generative AI throughout its entire business to achieve transformative results. By adopting cutting-edge technologies and exploring innovative ways to leverage them, Walmart sets an example for other organizations seeking to enhance their operations through digital solutions. As businesses continue to evolve in an ever-changing landscape, the strategic adoption of generative AI can help drive performance, deliver superior customer service, automate processes, optimize negotiations, and empower employees with new tools for success.

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