How Walmart is Embracing AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) is enabling Walmart to move from being an omnichannel retailer to an adaptive one, at least according to Anshu Bhardwaj, senior vice president and chief operating officer at Walmart Global Technology and Walmart Commerce Technologies, who spoke at a session during the National Retail Federation Big Show in New York City earlier this week.
"An adaptive retailer means a retailer that can intercept customers at the point of their convenience to get them what they want and how they want it," Bhardwaj told Suzy Davidkhanian, vice president of content at Insider Intelligence, during the packed session. "It's really taking it to the next step."
An example of being an adaptive retailer is Walmart's Text to Shop service experience, Bhardwaj said, which allows mobile consumers across both iOS and Android devices to text Walmart the items they want to purchase from either their local store or Walmart.com, or easily reorder items for pickup, delivery or shipping.
Another example Bhardwaj shared was how Walmart is using generative AI to help customers search for products by specific use cases. For example, when planning a Super Bowl party, consumers can simply type “plan a Super Bowl party” into the Walmart app or website, “and the app returns categories with relevant products a consumer may need, such as food, beverages, snacks and more,” she said, mitigating the need to conduct multiple searches such as “nachos,” salsa,” etc.
AI is not only improving the customer experience at Walmart, but it’s also helping the retailer's employees, noted Bhardwaj. For example, Walmart's Me@Campus is a “super app” designed to aid employees in managing their careers and finances; obtain required learnings; work together with teams; and more. In addition, the app’s new "My Assistant" feature also helps with a range of tasks, from summarizing long documents to assisting in the creation of new content.
"Think of Me@Campus as a smart assistant designed to help you do your job faster, “said Bhardwaj. "For example, if you want to create a first draft of something, or summarize notes, it will help you do that.”
Me@Campus is currently serving 50,000 associates, Bhardwaj said, with plans to roll it out to non-store workers in 11 countries.
Lastly, Bhardwaj discussed how as AI becomes more embedded across Walmart’s business, it’s important the company ensures it’s using the technology in an ethical manner and being transparent about its usage. As such, she discussed how last year Walmart introduced its Responsible AI Pledge, which is centered around six commitments that highlight how customers, members and associates can expect Walmart to use AI responsibly, and throughout all phases of AI technology. The commitments include transparency, security, privacy, fairness, accountability and customer-centricity.
“At the end of the day, we want to make sure we're using the data responsibly and fairly, and being transparent about it,” Bhardwaj said.
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