As agility has become the key to success within a retail landscape extraordinarily disrupted by the spread of COVID-19, the company said it tested, released and scaled the initiative in just over two weeks.
“As we continue to add new machine learning-driven capabilities like this in the future, as well as the corresponding customer experiences, we’ll be able to iterate and scale quickly by leveraging the flexible technology platforms we’ve developed,” Janey Whiteside, Walmart chief customer officer and Suresh Kumar, global technology officer and chief development officer, wrote in a company blog post.
The contactless delivery service employs machine learning to fulfill orders from nearly 2,000 stores, fulfilled by 74,000 “personal shoppers.” Developed by the company’s in-house global technology team, the system accounts for such variables as order quantity, staffing levels, the types of delivery vehicles available, and estimated route length between a store and home.
It also pulls in weather data to account for delivery speeds, and Whiteside and Kumar said it’s consistently refining its estimates for future orders.
Consumers must pay an additional $10, on top of any other delivery charges, to take advantage of the service.
Separately. Walmart announced it's paying out another $390 million in cash bonuses to its U.S. hourly associates as a way to recognize their efforts during the spread of COVID-19.
Full-time associates employed as of June 5 will receive $300 while part-time and temporary associates will receive $150, paid out on June 25. Associates in stores, clubs, supply chain and offices, drivers, and assistant managers in stores and clubs are all included.
“Walmart and Sam’s Club associates continue to do remarkable work, and it’s important we reward and appreciate them,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., in a statement. “All across the country, they’re providing Americans with the food, medicine and supplies they need, while going above and beyond the normal scope of their jobs — diligently sanitizing their facilities, making customers and members feel safe and welcome, and handling difficult situations with professionalism and grace.”
The retailer has committed more than $935 million in bonuses for associates so far this year.