Walmart Inc. unveiled several new retail technologies at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), which its namesake stores and Sam’s Club locations are trialing and expanding.
The retailer claims these new technologies will enable it to deliver a new type of commerce – adaptive retail – which is customer-centric, interconnected, and frictionless.
“While omnichannel retail has been around for decades, this new type of retail – adaptive retail – takes it a step further,” said Suresh Kumar, global chief technology officer and chief development officer, Walmart Inc. “It’s retail that is not only e-commerce 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.”
Technology revealed ranged from a 10-club pilot in which Sam’s Club is trialing artificial intelligence (AI) and computer vision to eliminate queuing at the club’s exit area, to a beta social commerce platform and drone expansion plans.
Below we break down the new retail tech and expansion plans Walmart revealed this week.
Walmart’s Technology Plans
A new GenAI-powered search experience, which generates relevant, cross-category results, is now available on iOS for all customers with the latest version of the Walmart app (23.47 and above) and logged into their Walmart account. The enhanced search experience allows customers to now search by specific use cases, e.g., a football watch party versus individual searches for chips, wings, drinks, and a 90-inch TV.
GenAI search can also account for a variety of other factors, such as location, search history, and other contextual information, to further refine results for customers. Walmart said it uses a combination of Walmart proprietary data and technology and large language models, including those available in Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service, as well as retail-specific models built by Walmart. The new design serves up a curated list of the best items a shopper is looking for.
Social Commerce Platform
Walmart revealed a beta social commerce platform called Shop with Friends. The augmented reality (AR) shopping enables customers to share the virtual outfits they create with friends and get feedback on their fashion finds.
Shop with Friends uses the underlying capabilities of augmented reality virtual try-on, generative AI, commerce API, and more. By utilizing Shop with Friends, customers will be able to mix and match apparel items to create virtual outfits on a model with similar sizing and shape. Users will have the flexibility to create multiple outfits and share their fashion finds with friends to ask for their feedback. The tool integrates with popular mobile sharing applications. Each invited user can "heart" their favorite looks, contributing to the decision-making process.
“We know that shopping is more fun and engaging with friends, so Shop with Friends takes virtual try-on to the next level by making the shopping experience a social one,” the retailer said.