From Aisles to Algorithms: Walmart's Tech-Forward Innovations for Time-Saving Shopping

Jan. 9, 2024

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At Walmart, we have a clear purpose: To help people live better. This is our 'why' and North Star – everything our associates do starts and ends with the customer, including how we apply technology. Our goal is to make the shopping experience effortless, engaging and personalized.

We achieve this by bringing products to life in our stores and online, which is why we're continually innovating, testing and evolving new technologies. Our app is the gateway to many everyday services like auto care, pharmacy and financial products, and we’re building and developing features that make the Walmart app your essential retail companion.

We're at the cusp of dramatic changes in how people discover, buy and receive goods. Ultimately, they expect us to simplify the shopping experience for them. GenAI, AR/VR and extended reality play a critical role in enabling that mission, and today, we're sharing more details about how we’re developing emerging technologies to build the future of Walmart.

Developing GenAI Search

Whether shoppers want faster delivery or to find what they’re looking for more quickly, we believe GenAI can help Walmart customers spend more time doing the things they enjoy and less time scrolling, tapping and searching. Enter our new GenAI search experience, which is live on iOS for all customers with the latest version of our app (23.47 and above) and logged into their Walmart account.

How it will work

GenAI-powered search is an enhanced search experience that elevates the shopping experience, allowing customers to search by specific use cases, generating more relevant and cross-category results. For example, a customer could simply search “football watch party” and discover all the items they may want, eliminating numerous searches. Essentially, with GenAI, a multistep process is simplified into one easy search.

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. We use 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.

Shop with Friends

Walmart’s vast assortment spans our physical stores and the endless aisles on Walmart.com and the Walmart app. But products themselves are only one part of the equation. We want to bring the products to life, whether you’re in our stores, browsing online or using the closest store – the one right in your pocket.

Over the past few years, Walmart has invested more in AR, helping customers see how items will look in their everyday life. Our industry-leading Virtual Try-on technology for fashion features Choose Your Own Model and Be Your Own Model options that bring the in-store fitting room experience to shoppers. The technology leverages algorithms and machine learning models to better visualize how clothing will look on, while View in Your Home (Home AR) allows customers to virtually place home goods items in their living spaces before making a purchase, helping to improve the shopping experience and reducing returns.

With those AR experiences as our foundation, we’re sharing details about a new AR feature we’re building called Shop with Friends. 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. Customers will be able to share their fashion finds with friends and ask for their feedback.

How it will work

Shop with Friends is a social commerce platform that 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 effortlessly 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. Inviting friends is easy as the tool integrates with popular mobile sharing applications. Each invited user can heart their favorite looks, contributing to the decision-making process. We're excited for customers and their friends to try out this technology once it becomes available.

InHome Replenishment

When customers shop at Walmart today, they can take advantage of our full suite of Pickup and Delivery options, ensuring they get what they need when they need it. InHome was born in 2019 as an innovative service powered by technology to streamline shopping and elevate convenience. Last year, InHome became a plus-up to our Walmart+ program, combining two great services into one option.

A Walmart InHome delivery worker pushes a cart of products to the front door of a home for delivery.

InHome Delivery gives customers the ability to choose where items are delivered – whether it's their doorstep, garage or directly into the refrigerator – providing an ultra-convenient and secure experience. Building on the success of InHome, we're thrilled to share we’re developing InHome Replenishment, an added timesaving, game-changing solution crafted to provide customers with unparalleled additional peace of mind that they’ll always have their shopping essentials on hand.

How it will work

InHome Replenishment will be an AI-powered feature that uses a personalized replenishment algorithm to anticipate needs and place orders delivered directly to our customers' pantry and fridge. The algorithm learns what customers purchase regularly, how much of these items they purchase and the frequency of those purchases. With that information, a customer's online shopping cart is filled with the right items at the appropriate time—like having a second 'you' that knows exactly what you need.

“So, when customers go for milk, instead of having nothing, they have something,” said Whitney Pegden, vice president, New Propositions and Pre-Transactions, Walmart U.S., “making sure customers have the things they need consistently the moment they open the fridge or pantry, without lifting a finger.”

Customers will have complete control: skip items not needed, add additional items to the order and adjust their delivery day and time if needed. The new replenishment service will automate the entire shopping experience, from basket-building to delivery. We’ll be excited for customers to try this new innovation when it launches.

Innovating with Purpose – Always  

These initiatives in development represent not just a leap forward in retail technology but a commitment to redefining the very essence of shopping. We understand that time is the ultimate currency, and with each innovation, we’re not just transforming the shopping experience; we’re giving back moments to our valued customers.

At Walmart, our associates always have been and always will be at the heart of our progress, and we’re excited about the ways we’re leveraging technology dynamically to tread with purpose, aiming to simplify lives one innovation at a time.

About Walmart
Walmart Inc. (NYSE: WMT) is a people-led, tech-powered omnichannel retailer helping people save money and live better – anytime and anywhere – in stores, online, and through their mobile devices. Each week, approximately 240 million customers and members visit approximately 10,500 stores and numerous eCommerce websites in 19 countries. With fiscal year 2023 revenue of $611 billion, Walmart employs approximately 2.1 million associates worldwide. Walmart continues to be a leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy, and employment opportunity. Additional information about Walmart can be found by visiting corporate.walmart.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/walmart, on X (formerly known as Twitter) at twitter.com/walmart, and on LinkedIn at linkedin.com/company/walmart.