US retail giant Walmart has taken the next step in its adoption of technology, announcing plans to equip over 740,000 staff with smart phones that feature the company’s latest app.
The move showcases how technology adoption is revolutionising efficiency and staff satisfaction in retail while also improving the customer experience.
So, let’s take a deep dive into exactly what Walmart has planned and the thinking behind it…
Walmart and tech adoption
Walmart currently ranks as the world’s biggest retailer and has long had an affinity with technology.
In 2018, they encouraged employees to start bringing their own devices to the workplace, where they could draw on a company app to manage their schedules and provide assistance to clientele.
Now the brand is set to go a step further, furnishing more than 740,000 employees with Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphones by the end of the year.
A new app released
The rollout of free smart phones for sales associates coincides with the release of Walmart’s Me@Walmart app.
Purpose built in-house, the app was initially devised as a way to manage sales associates’ schedules.
It has now evolved to be a single platform designed to simplify the work life of Walmart staff while improving efficiency and the customer experience.
Walmart explains the app encompasses numerous features, including:
- Scheduling: The app lets associates easily view their shifts up to two weeks in advance, check on their upcoming paid time off and request changes to their schedule, if needed.
- Mobile Clock In: Using geofencing technology, associates can clock in with a tap of a button once they arrive at their store.
- Push-to-Talk: Push to talk enables associates to instantly connect with one another, helping them work as a team to stay nimble and react to customers’ needs.
- Ask Sam: A voice-activated personal assistant for work, the Ask Sam feature saves time by letting associates ask the app questions to quickly locate merchandise and get answers for customers. Associates can even look up the metrics that drive the business.
Walmart goes on to note the rollout of the app is designed to provide sales associates with “the best tools to do their jobs”.
“The capabilities within the Me@Walmart app are built in-house by our product, technology and design teams and apply best-in-class technology, like machine learning, augmented reality, camera vision and artificial intelligence to tackle complex problems,” they explain.
“The result? An intuitive, easy-to-use app that empowers associates to own their day.”
In the coming months, the company also plans to introduce a further feature to streamline the store re-stocking process.
Instead of scanning each box of stock in the storeroom individually, associates will be able to hold up their device and, using augmented reality, highlight the boxes that are ready to go.
“Product gets on the shelf faster — something we all know is increasingly important. In fact, since piloting it last year, this patent-pending capability takes a third of the time than the previous manual process,” Walmart says.
The thinking behind free smart phones
Until now, Walmart employees have either used shared handheld devices at work or brought their own into the workplace.
But Walmart notes the issuing of free smart phones to sales associates is designed to ensure they have access to a sleek, handheld device.
“Associates will only be able to access the app’s work features while they’re on the clock, but they can also use the smartphone as their own personal device if they want, with all the features and privacy they’re used to. Walmart will not have access to any personal data, just like our longstanding BYOD program,” the company explains.
Walmart says their app rollout and device program is all about catering to the new customer experience and empowering sales associates to meet customer expectations.
“As retail continues to evolve — and quickly — it’s more critical than ever to equip our people with the tools and technology they need for success,” they reflect.
“Doing so makes work easier and more enjoyable, and it keeps the focus where we need it most — delivering a great in-store, pickup and delivery experience for our customers.”
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