As one of the world’s largest retailers, Walmart has unveiled how technology shapes a new type of commerce. This type of commerce is focused on customers, frictionless, and interconnected services.
Speaking at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the big box chain’s CEO, Doug McMillon, showcased a slew of technological innovations to redefine the retail landscape.
Walmart has over 10,000 stores in 19 countries and worldwide revenues of $611 billion.
New tech unveiled
Walmart has introduced new technologies in the artificial intelligence space, GenAI and AR, to help reshape how it serves customers.
- New GenAI-powered search experience is now available for iOS customers. They can now search by specific use cases. For example, searching for a football watch party versus individual searches for chips, wings, drinks, and a 90-inch TV.
- The new InHome replenishment function will ensure customers’ online shopping carts are filled with the right items at the right time. It will be delivered into a refrigerator in a kitchen or garage.
- Shop with friends is a beta social commerce platform that takes AR shopping to the next level. Customers can share the virtual outfits with their friends and get immediate feedback.
Stepping up customer convenience, Walmart has revealed that it will now deliver items within 30 minutes by expanding its drone delivery plan. Nearly 2 million additional households in the Dallas Fort Worth metroplex will now qualify for drone deliveries (75% of the area).
Walmart also has plans to expand its propriety of the My Assistant AI tool in the year ahead. Campus associates in 11 countries will be able to interact with My Assistant in their different native languages. That means tasks like summarizing large documents, drafting documents, and creating creative ideas will become more manageable.
McMillon says there are two options retailers have. One is to adopt technology in operations without considering its impact. The other is to choose a more people-centric approach combined with technology.
Walmart is following the latter. “It’s one where the benefits of technology are pursued, but people are considered along the way. It’s about our heads and our hearts.”
He says the underlying principle is that technology should be used in such a way that it serves people and not the other way around. “We love what technology can do, but we’re building it in a way that creates better careers. At the same time, it creates better customer experiences and a stronger business.”
Technology replacing skills
Without a doubt, technology will make specific jobs redundant. It will have an impact on certain skill sets. But it will also free up manual labor to concentrate on other crucial assignments.
“No doubt, some tasks will go away, and some roles will change. Some of them are like the ones that involve lifting heavy weight or doing repetitive tasks. We’re designing new roles that our associates tell us are more enjoyable and satisfying and often result in higher pay,” encourages McMillon.
Walmart has already implemented these changes, moving to robots doing warehouse hard labor. “We’re a people-led tech-powered omni channel retailer dedicated to helping people. We want to help people live better. That starts with saving them money.”
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