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Walmart Details Its Latest Tech Tools

Its “adaptive retail” strategy includes AR, AI and drones

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Walmart’s Sam’s Club is installing a new “Scan & Go” checkout system. Photo: Courtesy of Walmart

Walmart (Bentonville, Ark.) has unveiled some of the latest technologies it’s using to deliver a new type of commerce – what it describes as adaptive retail, which is customer-centric, interconnected, frictionless and consistently exceeds expectations. Those revelations were made by President and CEO Doug McMillon in a keynote address at the high-profile Consumer Electronics Show that’s now taking place in Las Vegas.

“We build technology to serve people and not the other way around,” said McMillon. “Walmart’s purpose is to help people live better and, today, more than ever, advances in technology make it feel like anything is possible. Our technology roadmap is compelling and we’re very excited about it, but we’re clear that we are a people-led, tech-powered company.”

To that end, McMillon discussed how technologies like AI, GenAI and AR will “reimagine Walmart’s role as a shopping destination to serving as a customer’s concierge.”

Specifically, he revealed:

• A new GenAI-powered search experience now available to iOS customers. The enhanced search experience allows customers to search by specific use cases, e.g., a football watch party versus individual searches for chips, wings, drinks and a 90-inch TV. It generates relevant, cross-category results.

• A sneak peek into Walmart InHome Replenishment, which uses AI and Walmart’s decades of replenishment expertise to ensure customers’ online shopping carts are filled with the right items at the right time and delivered into a refrigerator in a kitchen or garage.

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• A beta social commerce platform called Shop with Friends that uses AR to let customers share virtual outfits they create with friends and get feedback on their fashion finds.

But adaptive retail is not limited to search and discovery, Walmart executives say; it’s also about creating personalized, seamless and flexible shopping experiences from start to finish.

“While omnichannel retail has been around for decades, this new type of retail – adaptive retail – takes it a step further,” said Suresh Kumar, the brand’s Global Chief Technology Officer and Chief Development Officer. “It’s retail that is not only eCommerce or in-store, but a single, unified retail experience that seamlessly blends the best aspects of all channels. And for Walmart, adaptive retail is rooted in a clear focus on people.”

With that in mind, the company’s Sam’s Club unit unveiled a new technology that aims to solve a key concern for its members – waiting in line for receipt verification when exiting the club. The technology uses a first-of-its-kind application of AI and computer vision technology to deliver new levels of convenience as members exit their club.

Walmart also announced another step in its goal to offer customers the ability to receive items in as soon as 30 minutes by expanding drone delivery to 1.8 million additional households in the Dallas Fort-Worth metroplex – 75 percent of the area. Of the 120,000 items in a Supercenter, 75 percent meet the size and weight requirements for drone delivery, the retailer notes.

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