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Walmart Unveils Associate App, Giving 740,000 Associates Smartphones

Walmart is going big on BYOD (bring your own device). Learn how geofencing clock-in, augmented reality, a voice-activated personal assistant, and a free personal phone to boot will make Walmart employees’ lives easier.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Editor in Chief
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Walmart is going big on BYOD (bring your own device), giving 740,000 associates new smartphones.

Among the top in-store investments today are mobile devices for associates and/or managers (40% have started, while 20% plan to start an upgrade in the next two years), according to RIS’ 2021 “Retail Technology Study.” Only 20% of retailers said they have no implementation plans for the tech, while 20% have up-to-date devices in place today. What’s more, over the next two years 51% of retailers report that they will have up-to-date mobile workforce and/or HR applications.

In line with these findings, Walmart also revealed a new app built in-house by Walmart Global Tech for U.S. store associates. The mobile app, Me@Walmart, provides new features to simplify daily tasks, serve customers and plan for life outside of work.

“The idea of this app started as a way to manage associates’ schedules and has grown into our single in-store app for U.S. associates, saving them time and helping them be more efficient,” said Drew Holler, SVP, Walmart U.S. people 0perations, and Kellie Romack, VP, product and associate experience in a blog.  "We believe it’s the first of its kind in the retail industry."

To access the app, Walmart is giving associates a new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone, case and protection plan for free, which they can use as their own personal device as well. Associates will only be able to access the app’s work features while they’re on the clock and Walmart will not have access to any personal data.

“We’re proud that Samsung’s innovative technology is playing a key role in enabling Walmart to transform their retail associate experience,” Hamshy Raveendran, head of product management and go to market, Mobile B2B Business, Samsung Electronics Americas, told RIS. “Our Galaxy XCover Pro, combined with Walmart's all-in-one Me@Walmart app, will put everything associates need at their fingertips to help them better serve their customers. And outside the store, they’ll have an exceptional device for their personal use. We’re excited to support Walmart as they lead the retail industry in leveraging mobile to empower their frontline employees.”

The devices and app will give Walmart associates access to mobile experiences such as:

  • Push-to-Talk: Associates can instantly connect with one another by using push-to-talk, allowing them to work as a team and quickly react to customers’ needs.
  • Scheduling: The app lets associates 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.
  • Ask Sam: A voice-activated personal assistant for work, the Ask Sam feature lets associates ask the app questions to quickly locate merchandise and get answers for customers. Associates can even look up the metrics that drive their business. This feature was previously available to some associates as a separate app, but is now available to all through Me@Walmart. Last year Walmart expanded its capabilities to include details about COVID-19.
  • Personal Security: The Samsung Knox mobile security suite is being used to create the boundaries between personal and work-related information. Walmart will not have access to any associates’ personal data.
  • Knox Services: Walmart will leverage the extensive capabilities found in the Samsung Knox Suite.  This includes tools to help with automated enrollment, firmware management, device and WiFi network analytics, loss prevention and deep device customization. 

In addition, Walmart said it will add another feature to the Me@Walmart app in the coming months to speed up the time it takes stocking associates to get items from the backroom to the sales floor.

“Instead of scanning each box individually, associates just hold up their device and, using augmented reality, highlight the boxes that are ready to go,” the blog said. “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 move to tap into the growing BYOD trend will likely save its associates time, which would potentially give them more time for customers. 

“BYOD is helping retailers to take advantage by providing more engaging in-store experiences to customers, reducing device procurement costs and gain visibility into in-store performance,” Shibuya Data Count said in a PR. “According to the Financial Impact of BYOD study, employees tackle work tasks the moment they receive them, accomplish them more quickly and gain some extra minutes, 37 minutes per week to be exact. United States BYOD users ranked highest on that scale, with an average 81 minutes saved per week. For retailers with a large number of associates, the regained minutes can quickly add up, translating into improved customer service that results in increased sales.”

The study valued the BYOD market at USD 186.09 billion in 2019 and is expected to reach USD 430.45 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 15% over the forecast period 2020 – 2025.