How Walmart AI Is Taking Retail To The Next Level
The supermarket juggernaut Walmart has been trying to improve with artificial intelligence since 2019. For example, its Bentonville, Arkansas branch has AI everywhere, from supply chain management to virtual shopping. With the release of GPT-4, Walmart AI plans to improve further with unique new features.
Desirée Gosby, the vice president of emerging technology at Walmart Global Tech, confirmed that plan during an interview with VentureBeat. She announced generative AI like GPT-4 would “be as big as a shift as mobile, in terms of how our customers are going to expect to interact with us.
“We’ve had a platform that has allowed teams across Walmart to build conversational experiences for about five years,” Gosby added. “We focus on building a natural language understanding capability that is retail-specific,” the VP said.
How is Walmart AI changing how supermarkets work?
Walmart is a supermarket chain with roughly 240 million customers across 20 countries. It has stayed ahead of the competition by adopting the latest technologies.
The rise of ChatGPT marked the era of artificial intelligence, so the company has already started to adapt to it. At the time of writing, there are nearly two dozen Walmart AI experiences in development.
Desirée Gosby said, “We’ve had a platform that has allowed teams across Walmart to build conversational experiences for about five years.” In other words, large language models like GPT-4 are the foundations where Walmart builds models.
In turn, the retail firm uses its knowledge about products and customers. For example, the supermarket uses GPT-4 to improve services like Text to Shop.
You may also like: Amazon Begins Drone Deliveries in California and Texas
It enables customers to add products to their online cart by texting or speaking the names of the stuff they need. The Sam’s Club membership program also helps Walmart AI improve.
The former shares massive amounts of data about what members look for, what they like, what they buy, and when. Anshu Bhardwaj, senior vice president of tech strategy and commercialization at Walmart, explained how that works.
She told CNBC, “[Customers] are generating all these breadcrumbs about what they like and want, and that’s allowing us to make the shopping experience better.”
Sam’s Club achieves this goal by ensuring their desired items are always on shelves. It uses floor scrubbers to check every item in the store in real time.
If a product runs out, they alert the stock room to replenish it. “This is how we close the loop,” Bhardwaj said. As a result, Walmart’s employee productivity increased by 15%.
What is next for Walmart AI?
Walmart uses AI to make its supply chains more efficient than ever. It directs the distribution of workflows to meet demand, especially during peak seasons.
Surprisingly, Walmart AI enables the supermarket chain to anticipate emergencies. It uses data sets to anticipate stress points to adapt to sudden changes.
Srini Venkatesan, EVP, U.S. Omni Tech at Walmart Global Tech, said it used the technology to meet demand when Hurricane Ian hit. It damaged a distribution center, taking a node offline for seven days.
“Not only was a node offline, we also had a lot more demand because people shop a lot more after a weather event,” he said. Fortunately, AI helped Walmart reroute shipments to meet demand.
Desirée Gosby said that Walmart has been trying other LLMs besides GPT-4. “The space is changing so rapidly. We don’t want to unnecessarily lock ourselves in,” she said.
She said the company is excited to use ChatGPT’s ability to “speak” to users for its services. “Having that foundation to be able to build on is very exciting,” Gosby said.
“It’s about putting those tools in the hands of the teams that are building these experiences,” the VP said. “I don’t think it’s going to be a hard leap for our customers once they start to see what is possible.”
Walmart AI’s long-term goal is to use ChatGPT to anticipate what customers want to buy. She explained it with the following statement:
“If we know your son’s going off to camp this summer and that he has allergies, we can add these allergy medicines to your cart. Or here are the things we would recommend to prepare him for camp.”
Walmart has been expanding its use of AI to deliver unique customer experiences. Yet, VP Desirée Gosby says, “It’s about enabling the right kinds of experiences and executing the capabilities in the right way.”
“At the end of the day, we’re going to let our customers guide us on what it is they want,” she said. “If it provides a benefit for them, it’s going to be good for Walmart.”
Soon, we will likely see other supermarkets use similar AI services. Keep up-to-date with the latest digital trends by following Inquirer Tech.