Published on January 9, 2024, 8:19 pm

Walmart is making strides in incorporating advanced technologies like augmented reality (AR), drones, generative AI, and other forms of artificial intelligence (AI) to enhance the shopping experience for its customers. During their keynote address at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Walmart president and CEO Doug McMillon, along with other company executives, showcased how these emerging technologies are being applied across various aspects of the business.

One noteworthy development unveiled by Walmart is a new generative AI search feature on iOS. This feature allows customers to search for products based on use cases rather than specific brand or product names. For instance, instead of searching for individual items like chips, wings, drinks, or a large TV for a football watch party, customers can now ask Walmart to provide search results specifically tailored to that occasion. This feature expands search results across different categories and competes with Google’s Search Generative Experience.

In addition to the enhanced search capabilities, Walmart offered a glimpse into the future of AI-powered shopping assistance. They showcased an AI shopping assistant chatbot that enables customers to interact and seek personalized product suggestions while they shop. The company also demonstrated how AI technology can streamline the replenishment process for frequently ordered items through their Walmart InHome Replenishment service. This service uses AI algorithms combined with their existing expertise in replenishment to create automated online shopping carts for customers.

The use of generative AI extends beyond just product search and replenishment within Walmart’s ecosystem. Another innovative offering presented by Walmart is “Shop with Friends,” an AR-based social commerce platform that allows customers to virtually share outfits they create with their friends and receive feedback. By leveraging AI-powered virtual try-on technology alongside social features, this tool aims to enhance the overall shopping experience.

McMillon referred to this suite of new products as “adaptive retail” – personalized and flexible retail experiences that seamlessly integrate e-commerce and physical stores. Suresh Kumar, Walmart’s global chief technology officer, emphasized the company’s focus on people and how adaptive retail is centered around delivering a unified retail experience.

While Walmart continues to explore AI implementation, they remain conscious of the potential impact on jobs. McMillon acknowledged that certain tasks may become automated, leading to the elimination of specific roles. However, he also highlighted Walmart’s commitment to designing new roles that offer increased job satisfaction and often result in higher pay for employees.

Beyond AI-driven advancements, Walmart is expanding its drone delivery service to cover approximately 1.8 million households in the Dallas-Ft. Worth metro area. Powered by Wing and Zipline, these drone deliveries can be completed within 30 minutes or less. Walmart has already performed over 20,000 drone deliveries during its two-year trial period and notes that a substantial percentage of items available in their stores meet the size and weight requirements for this mode of delivery.

Walmart’s continuous experimentation with generative AI tools demonstrates their commitment to improving customer experiences through innovative technological solutions. As customers increasingly demand personalized and flexible retail options, Walmart aims to cultivate an environment where technology serves people efficiently while also navigating any unintended consequences responsibly.

By leveraging augmented reality, drones, generative AI, and other emerging technologies, Walmart hopes to redefine the retail landscape and reinforce their position as a leader in adopting cutting-edge advancements within the industry.

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