Walmart Expands Voice Assistant Tech to Over 5,000 Stores

Originally developed for Walmart's subsidiary Sam's Club, the tech will now be expanded for Walmart employees .

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Need to Know

  • Walmart is expanding its Sam’s Club subsidiary “Ask Sam” voice assistant to over 5,000 Walmart stores.
  • Ask Sam is a mobile app that allows employees to ask work-related questions by speaking or typing and see the answer appear on-screen.
  • The assistant can help with price lookups, store maps, product locations, and more.
  • The technology could potentially be expanded to work with customer questions.

Analysis

Walmart has announced it will be expanding its use of voicing technology by increasing the use of its voice assistant, “Ask Sam.” Originally launched for Walmart subsidiary Sam’s Club, the voice assistant will become available to Walmart employees at over 5,000 stores across the U.S. 

Ask Sam can speed up the time it takes to acquire information and allows employees to look up prices, access store maps, find products, view sales information, check email, and more. 

The voice assistant has also been particularly helpful amid the COVID-19 pandemic—allowing for easier use while wearing gloves and providing information regarding the latest guidelines, guidance, and safety videos.

The voice assistant also helps employees with internal information, such as events and staff birthdays. There is also an Emergency Alert feature that allows managers to alert employees of emergency situations quickly and efficiently. 

Built using machine learning technology, Ask Sam will gradually get more accurate over time. By either speaking or typing, employees can ask the mobile app any job-related question and see the answer appear on-screen on their device. Since its launch in March, Sam’s Club employees have asked the app 1.5 million questions.

The expansion of voice technology is just the latest in a series of digital investments from the major retailer. Recent initiatives include the launch of Walmart+, an Amazon Prime-like subscription service, Walmart Canada’s $3.5 billion investment in “stores of the future”, and Walmart’s partnership with Shopify that has led to the rapid growth of its Marketplace feature. 

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