Walmart, a name synonymous with retail, has been making significant strides in leveraging Artificial Intelligence (AI) to enhance customer experience. In a recent talk at Cypher 2023, Prasad Savadi, Director – Data Science, and Kamiya Motwani, Director Data Science at Walmart Global Tech, shed light on how the retail giant is infusing AI into its operations.
The talk began with an overview of Walmart’s customer-centric approach, which aims to make shopping more convenient and personalized. The company employs AI in three key areas: search and discovery, customer care automation, and associate-facing apps. In search and discovery, machine learning models help predict what a customer is likely to buy, thereby making product recommendations more accurate. Customer care automation, on the other hand, uses natural language processing and personalization to assist customers in tracking orders or finding items in the store. The associate-facing apps are designed to help Walmart’s staff with their daily tasks, such as scheduling and order delivery, all powered by a common AI platform.
Walmart’s AI endeavors don’t stop at online interfaces; they extend to in-store experiences as well. The company uses AI to determine the assortment of products it should carry, optimizing for revenue and profits while considering spatial constraints. This data-driven approach also informs the arrangement of items within the store, ensuring that similar items are placed close by to facilitate easier shopping.
One of the most intriguing applications of AI at Walmart is the use of robotic scrubbers in their Sam’s Club stores. These automated floor cleaners are equipped with cameras that capture images of the shelves. Deep learning technologies process these images to verify pricing and stock levels, providing a feedback mechanism for inventory management.
To support these AI initiatives, Walmart has built a robust ecosystem that includes Element, their machine learning platform. Element offers a one-touch production deployment, on-demand infrastructure, and promotes a marketplace mindset, allowing different teams within Walmart to leverage each other’s work. The company also fosters a culture of innovation through academic collaborations and participation in prestigious ML conferences.
In conclusion, Walmart’s AI-driven strategies, as elucidated by Prasad Savadi and Kamiya Motwani, are not just about adopting new technologies but about fundamentally enhancing the customer journey. With a strong AI ecosystem and a culture that nurtures innovation, Walmart is setting new standards in retail.