Walmart’s Seven Million IoT Data Points Help Keep Prices Low

The retailer has leveraged IoT tech for energy efficiency and increased food safety during the COVID pandemic.

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Need to Know

  • Walmart manages more than seven million unique IoT data points in the US, regulating food quality and store energy consumption, among other things.
  • IoT tech also helped the retail giant to regulate its HVAC settings when COVID-19 first hit North America.
  • Walmart says its use of IoT helps keep prices low, in addition to contributing to customer safety and store sustainability.

Analysis

Walmart continues to implement innovative strategies for improving its customer experience. The latest tool in its arsenal: the Internet of Things.

In a blog post published earlier this month, Sanjay Radhakrishnan, Walmart’s global tech VP, detailed how Walmart’s more than 4,600 stores in the US are using IoT systems to implement sustainable, cost-saving solutions, in addition to helping keep stores safe during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the blog post, food safety is an area in which Walmart has benefited significantly from the implementation of IoT tech. Walmart’s Global Tech and Real Estate teams are able to monitor refrigerator and freezer temperature in Walmart stores using IoT systems, which monitor temperature as well as measuring the overall performance of fridges and freezers. This allows Walmart to engage in proactive maintenance, rather than costly repair, of its refrigerators and freezers. Teams are able to determine whether equipment failure requires. in-person intervention, or whether remote repair is sufficient, using IoT tech.

Stores are also able to efficiently monitor and manage energy consumption, by using IoT sensors on stores’ HVAC and energy systems. This was particularly useful at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic when Walmart was able to use its Demand Response system to make HVAC changes across multiple stores and US locations simultaneously. The reduction in energy consumption that has resulted from this smart monitoring and management has helped Walmart become more sustainable and cost-efficient, without affecting customer experience, and puts the retailer in a strong position to adjust energy consumption in the event of rolling blackouts or brownouts.

Walmart’s network of connected IoT devices sends nearly 1.5 billion messages regarding store conditions every day.

“What’s most exciting about our IoT work is that we are just getting started,” Radhakrishnan wrote. “We have a roadmap for the future of IoT that will include other types of equipment, other types of algorithms and data processing and additional locations. We will continue to focus on what our customers need most, like high food quality and a positive shopping experience.”

Walmart’s use of IoT technology will soon expand beyond its stores. Earlier this month, Walmart announced that it would be partnering with HomeValet, a smart box that uses IoT tech, to pilot contactless, 24/7 grocery delivery in Arkansas. The company has been working to consistently roll out innovative, digital-first updates in the wake of COVID-19, including drone delivery, and a partnership with Interac for better online payment infrastructure. The retailer saw its online revenue spike by 79% in Q3 of last year.

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