Walmart is focusing on implementing several artificial intelligence tools in stores and warehouses, allowing employees more time to interact with shoppers.
This, in turn, is expected to boost sales.
“Where there’s more AI…will make life easier in the back [warehouse] and in front [of the supercenter]”, Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, told FOX Business during a panel discussion at Walmart shareholders week.
That will “free up more time for associates to spend time on the part we care about most, which is where the sales take place, on the sales floor,” he said.
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Walmart says it’s been experimenting with AI technology for more than five years, including implementing its “Ask Sam” voice assistant, which helps Walmart and Sam’s Clubs associates streamline various tasks.
The voice assistant is “built on natural language processing” and “helps associates perform a number of different tasks,” said Vinod Bidarkoppa, Chief Technology Officer of Sam’s Club during the tour. Arkansas-based Sam’s Club on Thursday.
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Employees can ask the voice assistant about their schedule or get information like product locations, product prices, or in-store sales information. The technology was first introduced at Sam’s Clubs in 2019 before expanding to Walmart a year later.
In 2021, Walmart also begins using AI to enhance online grocery ordering. For instance, the company is using deep learning AI to identify the best alternatives for customers if a selected item is out of stock.
Just last year, the company deployed automated inventory scrubbers to Walmart-owned Sam’s Club locations across the country.
These automated scrubbers collect data as they move around the store, ensuring items are always in stock and easy to locate. This negates the need for the employee to perform the time-consuming task.
According to Bartlett, the goal is to reduce the complexity of the shopping experience for associates and customers.
“That’s where AI will be really helpful when you have to do it at the scale that we have to,” he said.
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Cheryl Ainoa, executive vice president of new businesses and emerging technologies at Walmart, said the company has a plethora of chatbots, shopping assistants and associated productivity tools in its businesses “under the radar” be active every day.”
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And this is just the surface, Ainoa said, adding that customers “will see a lot in the coming months and quarters.”
Walmart recently launched the AI Labs team in its tech organization. These associates research, discover, experiment and innovate in all aspects of the club with technology available to both members and associates.