Gen AI, Drones & Digital Labels: How Walmart is Evolving CX

Rolling out digital shelf labels is helping Walmart increase productivity, boost sustainability and drive better customer experiences
Walmart is transforming the retail experience with innovative technologies: enhancing customer service, boosting productivity and promoting sustainability

From offering the largest drone delivery footprint of any retailer in the United States to using generative AI (Gen AI) to enhance experiences for customers and employees, Walmart continues to deploy innovative technology solutions as part of its ultimate mission to build a better world. 

Today’s customers are tech-savvy, with elevated expectations around how, when and where they shop. The largest company in the world by revenue, Walmart is meeting this customer demand with adaptive retail, innovations that intuitively fit into customers’ lives as they seamlessly move across platforms and places.

Walmart is rolling out digital shelf labels across more than 2,000 of its stores

Now, as part of its commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technology to enhance the customer experience, Walmart is rolling out digital shelf labels (DSLs) across its stores. This innovative solution, developed by Vusion Group, represents a significant shift in how Walmart manages pricing, inventory, order fulfilment and customer interactions.

With over 120,000 products on shelves in each Walmart store, keeping prices up-to-date and accurately displayed is a significant challenge. DSLs allow Walmart associates to update prices at the shelf level using a mobile app, eliminating the need to manually change paper tags. This not only ensures that customers have access to accurate pricing information but also frees up associates' time to focus on providing better customer service.

DSLs are transforming the daily routines of Walmart associates, empowering them to work more efficiently and effectively. With features like ‘Stock to Light’ and ‘Pick to Light,’ Walmart says associates can quickly identify shelf locations that require restocking or order fulfilment, reducing the time spent searching for products and increasing overall productivity.

Beyond improving operational efficiency, the implementation of DSLs aligns with Walmart's commitment to sustainability. By reducing the need for paper price tags, DSLs help minimise operational waste, contributing to Walmart's efforts to integrate environmental responsibility into its business practices.

Walmart plans to expand the use of DSLs to 2,300 stores by 2026, underscoring the company's confidence in this technology's ability to revolutionise the shopping experience.

Taking to the skies: Drone deliveries driving customer experience

Since launching its drone delivery trial in 2021, Walmart has completed over 30,000 successful drone deliveries: a testament to the service's rapid growth and changing customer habits.

Earlier in 2024, Walmart announced the largest drone delivery expansion of any US retailer, making the service available to up to 75% of the Dallas-Fort Worth (DFW) population. This groundbreaking initiative has already proven its value, with customers praising the speed and convenience of drone delivery, allowing them to receive last-minute items in a matter of minutes.

Building on this success, Walmart is now focused on enhancing the customer journey by bringing the drone delivery ordering experience directly into its mobile app. Starting later this month, customers in the DFW area who are eligible for drone delivery based on their account address will be notified of this new ordering capability within the Walmart app.

How Walmart is harnessing the power of generative AI

Recognising the transformative potential of generative AI, Walmart is leveraging this cutting-edge technology to revolutionise the shopping experience for its customers. Earlier this year, the company launched a GenAI-powered search experience on its website and mobile app, enabling customers to browse and discover products based on specific use cases, delivering more relevant and cross-category results.

Building on this foundation, Walmart has introduced additional Gen AI-powered features, including AI-generated product reviews, product summarisations and product comparisons. These innovative capabilities streamline the shopping journey, providing customers with tailored insights and recommendations to help them make informed purchasing decisions.

Walmart is now taking its Gen AI integration to the next level by beta testing a Gen AI-powered shopping assistant. This conversational AI assistant engages customers in natural, free-flowing dialogues, guiding them through the process of discovering, evaluating, and selecting the best products for their unique needs and preferences.

Imagine a customer asking, "What's the ideal present for a 5-year-old?" The GenAI shopping assistant can provide personalised recommendations based on the context of the inquiry, taking into account factors such as the child's interests, age, and occasion. Over time, this assistant will evolve to incorporate more advanced features and capabilities, eventually serving as a trusted shopping companion, further transforming Walmart from a place to buy items to the first stop for any need or occasion.

“Driven by our commitment to help our customers live better, we're constantly working to create shopping experiences that are convenient, engaging and personalised,” comments Tom Ward, Chief eCommerce Officer, at Walmart US. “This experience needs to be cohesive, interconnected and seamlessly integrated into their everyday lives. By consistently pushing the boundaries, we're continuing to lead the industry in service of our customers.”

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