When Walmart announced was going to be a CES keynote for the first time, we were a little skeptical. Now it all makes sense: America’s largest retailer has arrived CES 2024 In Las Vegas to talk about AI. In joint announcement On Tuesday, the company said it is teaming up with Microsoft to create what it bills as AI-powered shopping experiences. In his keynote, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon described how the integration of AI between websites and apps will be used to learn shopper behavior and suggest future purchases.
As you might expect, given Microsoft’s involvement, the AI underlying these experiences will be powered by the large language models provided through this partnership with Microsoft. The AI it plans to deploy will use a combination of Walmart’s own proprietary technologies and retail-specific search functions based on Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service.
Walmart’s new generative AI-powered search features will be available on iOS and Android mobile devices, as well as through the company’s website. New search features will give shoppers more options to connect with the retailer’s digital inventory. For example, instead of searching for products like soda and chips, a shopper can say on a website that they need help shopping in natural language and look for product recommendations for special events like a birthday celebration or a game day watch party.
During the keynote, McMilon said the algorithms are designed to highlight relevant product categories after a search, which will “provide a curated list of the best items.” These new algorithmic shopping initiatives will compete directly Google’s AI search engine SGE and Works with Amazon’s big language model product listing software.
It appears that much of the effort on the AI front is consumer related, with the company saying that the new AI search features won’t just help shoppers. It will also extend existing tools for maintaining associations to help streamline work-related tasks and workflows. This can be seen from his announcement at Sam’s Club, a Walmart-owned company, will no longer need to check employee receipts after people leave stores. Instead, it will deploy an AI tool that verifies customer purchases.
In addition, Walmart has introduced ‘Walmart InHome Replenishment’, which will use artificial intelligence to predict which items in a shopper’s cart need to be replenished at the right time. This offer will be in addition to the InHome app available for Walmart+ Buyers in 2019.
Apart from AI, the retailer also teased plans to touch augmented reality into the shopping experience. The company has teased a beta social commerce offering that lets shoppers share virtual clothes with friends to provide feedback while shopping, using augmented reality as a ‘Shop with Friends’ social commerce offering. Eventually, Walmart will expand drone delivery test program to more buyers in Texas as a starting point. 1.8 million additional households will have access to drone delivery services that help shoppers get items within 30 minutes.
We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas, January 6-12. Stay up to date with the latest news from the show here.
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