This Learning Guide is all about How Walmart uses AI, IOT, Augmented Reality, Blockchain and Big Data Technologies for End to End Digital Transformation and the Info has been Sourced from Walmart Website, Youtube, Wiki and other Free Open Knowledge Resources.
Walmart Digital Transformation through Omnichannel Strategy
Casey Carl is the Chief Omni Strategy & Operations Officer, at Walmart and he’s had a long career in retail. As he puts it, omnichannel is the “term du jour” right now – but what exactly does it mean? It’s about delivering the best customer experience, no matter how they want to shop with Walmart – Online or Offline irrespective of the Platform.
Omnichannel Retail is an Extended version of Multichannel Retailing with a 360 Degree View of the Customer with a sole aim of offering a Seamless Integrated Experience to the Customer.
Watch this Video of the Huddle with John Furner to hear how Walmart is removing friction for its associates, providing end-to-end service for its customers, and creating a Unified Customer Strategy to deliver Best of the Class Unified Customer Experience to all its Customers.
Who Are Omnichannel Customers
Our priority is to create more of what we call Omnichannel customers, customers that are shopping us and acting with us not just in the store but also online, on their mobile phones, etc. Walmart is putting a lot of resources into the mobile experience.
The future of retail will belong to those who are gonna be able to pull this omni channel proposition. Among them, Walmart; a retail giant with the resources to invest both online and offline. It is probably gonna be easier for us to continue to develop the digital tools than it is for someone to come in and develop a physical footprint of five thousand stores around the country.Walmart CMO Tony Rogers in an Interview to WHOSAY
Walmart’s use of AI and Inventory Scanning Robots
Based on the Walmart Story, A Juniper Research study found that investments in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the retail sector are growing with each passing year, so much so that global retail spending on the technology will reach $7.3 billion annually by 2022. Additionally, experts predict that AI-based solutions in retail will reach $20.05 billion by 2026. Sam’s Club is using AI to elevate customer experience via a partnership with Brain Corp.
The latter will supply robotic floor cleaners powered by AI tech that’ll also offer autonomous navigation and data collection capabilities tied to a cloud-based reporting system. For example, it’ll facilitate adding inventory scans to the robotic scrubbers. This, in turn, will simplify obtaining crucial inventory data such as product availability and placement and help associates save time while serving customers in the best possible manner.
Learn How Walmart Robots Check Stocks and Shelves
Use of AI Powered Cameras
Walmart is starting to use AI powered cameras for shelf Space Monitoring and Optimisation. This will help alert management when shelves are understocked or getting emptied and plan in advance basically facilitating restocking, replacement and even cleaning.
Walmart’s Store Redesign
Based on Walmart Story, Omnichannel customer experience is a Key Customer Strategy for Walmart. It uses unique Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) tech on iPhones to display key information to customers such as measurements, and helps them visualize interior design. Similarly, Walmart’s store is an extension of its Omnichannel customer experience. Three major highlights of the brick-and-mortar-store redesign include Updated Walmart signage on exterior and interior of stores to reflect the Walmart app icon.
The clean, colourful iconography creates an impression on the customer’s minds, encouraging them to download and use the app while shopping. Aisles marked with letter and number combinations guide customers from phone to product. Thoughtful and straightforward navigation inspired by airport way finding systems helps customers efficiently browse products in the stores. The intent is to wow every customer as they shop at the stores, including powerful design elements to display unique products and drive value.
What is Omni Optical at Walmart? How did it help Sam’s Club members?
Based on the Walmart Story, Experience economy is the buzzword across industries. It is being leveraged by brands that use Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in their campaigns.When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Sam’s Club wanted to enable its members to shop for prescription glasses from home to step up health and safety measures. The end-to-end optical journey with an app-first/mobile-first strategy is an inventive solution, which helps its members choose the perfect prescription glass from the comfort of their homes.
Autonomous Checkout Process with Scan and Ship
Based on Walmart Story, Walmart’s members-only, in-app option – Scan & Go feature streamlines the shopping experience for customers, helping them reduce in-person contact. Available through the premium Walmart+ program, it makes shopping easy and intuitive. Customers need to use the app, scan barcodes to accurately add various items to their carts.
In 2020, 9.6 million customers downloaded the Scan & Go app. Sam’s Club’s Scan & Ship is a similar feature. It helps members get big-ticket items such as TVs, patio furniture, and playsets delivered to their doorsteps without worrying about organizing a pickup truck. The result – a hassle-free, autonomous checkout process.
Walmart uses Big Data Analytics for Pick Path Optimisation.
Pick Path Optimisation is the Process of Managing Picking Activities by Ordering them in an Optimal Route. This is Facilitated by finding the fastest way to navigate the warehouse in order to pick products quickly, accurately, and efficiently.
Based on Walmart Story, Following are the Key Pointers
- During the picking process, the main reason for inefficiency is motion waste. It’s an unnecessary movement, which makes a task longer than it should take. Pick path optimisation solves this bottleneck for retailers.
- The pick-path optimisation feature from Walmart type bunches orders together, creating a path for the associate to pick it up. This process helps them quickly report out-of-stock items in the system.
- Walmart started the pick path optimisation on a micro-scale for its storage data, using several data science technologies and building in-house algorithms that included plenty of analytics. Needless to say, it has helped Walmart increase its efficiency and customer satisfaction manifold.
Walmart uses Blockchain for Harvesting Data about Food Traceability
Based on Walmart Story, In August 2017 – Walmart announced a Blockchain partnership with big names in the supply chain industry such as Dole, Kroger, McCormick, Nestlé, Tyson Foods, and Unilever to collaborate and find new applications that could help increase food traceability.
How Blockchain Helps Walmart
- Granular information about food items derived from Blockchain supply chain solutions removes the guesswork and helps merchants make decisions on how they handle the goods such as getting the accurate shelf-life data of fruits to halt discarding food that is still fresh.
- At Walmart, precedence is given to quality products at every level. Implementing innovative Blockchain solutions helps Walmart get detailed insights into every single event and take informed actions.
- This enhanced visibility enables Walmart to manage suppliers better, conduct more efficient quality checks, and drastically reduce time and costs at various levels of the supply chain.
- By September 2018, it was possible for the company to trace over 25 products from as many as five different suppliers- including mangoes, leafy greens, strawberries, dairy products, meat and poultry, packaged salads, and even baby food. The system was so efficient that one could take a jar of a product or a salad box and trace the ingredients back to the farms from where they were harvested.
- Blockchain tech can effectively help trace the contaminated product (even if it is just an ingredient) back to its source and curb the further spread of foodborne illnesses.
- Apart from the rapid containment of the illnesses with decreased response times, Blockchain also reduces food waste due to selective recalls leading to better recall management. To put things in perspective, about 17% of global food production may go wasted, according to the UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Food Waste Index Report 2021, with 13% of this waste coming from retail.
In the same year, the retail giant announced: “a new, Blockchain-enabled Walmart Food Traceability Initiative to increase transparency in the food system and create shared value for the entire leafy green farm to table continuum.” As a part of the initiative, all fresh leafy greens suppliers were expected to trace their products back to the farms within seconds as opposed to days.
By 2019, Walmart was already a pioneer in the food safety business. One of the most significant piece of news arrived that year from the Walmart China Blockchain Traceability Platform It introduced the first batch of 23 product lines tested and launched on the platform, enabled by VeChain’s Blockchain technology. The same year, the company piloted a Blockchain technology for the end-to-end traceability of shrimp sourced in Andhra Pradesh, India, and shipped to select Sam’s Club locations in the USA.
AI based Conversational Commerce at Walmart
Based on Walmart Story, Hyper-personalization combines AI and real-time data across platforms to deliver detail-oriented omnichannel experiences to customers, reducing their pain points during the buying journey. Not all customers are privy to sharing or repeating the same information on a platform, such as their phone numbers or date of birth. Voice commerce tools with conversational AI help keep track of the chat or call histories and other data to offer information at a granular level. Instead of asking them what shirt brand they are looking for, offering them the latest options in their favorite brand drives value.
Walmart uses Proactive models
The Use of Proactive Models is to personalise user experience across customer care experiences on chat and IVR, greeting users with the most relevant options that they may need help with. Even within a conversation, the proactive models understand what the user means currently (NLP) and what the user may need next. With the aim to improve and simplify the shopping experience for customers, Walmart has introduced several voice or conversational commerce initiatives over the years. In no particular order, these are:
Walmart Voice Order – Adding favourites to the carts is one line of command
In 2019, in partnership with Google, Walmart announced the Walmart Voice Order, which simplified grocery orders using voice commands. To activate the feature, users only had to pick up their device and say, “Hey Google, talk to Walmart.”For customers, ordering became as simple as, “Hey Google, add shampoo to my shopping cart, please.” The Google Assistant started adding items directly to the customers’ virtual Walmart Grocery cart quickly and accurately based on their prior purchase information, such as their favourite brand of shampoo.
Walmart Deep Learning AI Solution
Based on Walmart Story, In the absence of past order data, the technology suggests items with the best local price and availability and allows customers to modify their carts.Walmart’s recently built and deployed deep learning AI led to an increase in accepted substitutions by over 95%. In case a desired item is unavailable, the solution helps identify the next best available item for customers based on variables including – brand, price, individual customer preference, and aggregate shopper data in real-time.
Customers are asked to approve the substituted item or tell whether they don’t want it. These signals are used to identify the next best item for customers if their selected item is out of stock. If the customers give feedback that they don’t want any item, the signal is fed into the learning algorithms. This, in turn, enhances the accuracy levels of future recommendations by removing guesswork.
Walmart’s AI for Customer Care
Based on Walmart Story, Walmart has been leveraging AI and taking leaps on the customer care front as well. AI is at the core of conversational agents – from using Natural Language Processing (NLP) models, which enable seamless conversations with customers, to using ‘Proactive’ models for Personalised experiences across domains.The goal for these conversational agents is to anticipate customer needs and understand any feedback to provide intuitive and Personalised Experiences across all of our platforms, such as chats, IVR, help centre, and more.
Furthermore, understanding user intent enables us to route users into appropriate self-service flows, e.g., enabling faster returns, checking order status, etc. This results in experiences that help Walmart customers save time and money while allowing Walmart associates and partners to quickly serve and delight our customers anytime, anywhere.
Walmart Rolls out Ask Sams- Inventory management Solution
Based on Walmart Story, Rolled out in the US in 2019, Ask Sam is a voice tech from Walmart made available to its associates at more than 5000 stores. The tool assists the associates in finding products, viewing sales information, accessing store maps, looking up prices, and so on. The same tech proved critical for accessing COVID-19 information, including the latest guidelines and safety videos. Also, come to think of it, in the pandemic era, it was easier to use the app to navigate information while wearing gloves.
From a member care point of view, one of the significant benefits offered by the tech was speeding up the time to access information instead of writing a query on a small screen, giving employees more time to engage with customers. Based on this Report, The voice assistance technology was built using machine learning techniques, which means it gets smarter and more accurate over time, as it’s used. In addition, a team manually reviews the questions being asked to help find other patterns and trends the tech may have missed, like top searched items.