We often tend to believe that anything that is more than a few decades old must be outdated and not caught up with the rest of the world. On the contrary, Walmart, which was founded in 1962, is still updating themselves to cutting-edge, technology when it comes to retail decision making and customer experiences, using machine learning, internet of things and big data analytics. That’s very fast forward for someone born almost five decades ago.
Being one of the biggest retailers in the, over 20,000 stores in 28 countries, Walmart has not decided to up the game a little. It is planning to build world’s biggest private cloud, to process 2.5 petabytes of data every hour. To make sense of all the data it encounters, the company has just finished building something they like to call the Data café– A state of the art analytics hub. It is connected to over 200 streams of internal and external data including 40 petabytes of recent transactional data, which is accessible to teams from all part of the business, to use it to solve their problems.
This has enabled Walmart to efficiently indulge in complex decision making, which usually involves taking into account various internal and external variables, within minutes. These decisions usually took weeks initially, when things were done manually.
Walmart vs Amazon: Retail Decision making
Although Amazon maybe its nemeses in the business, Walmart can still steal to show because it has an advantage over both online and retail stores. With over 11,000 retail stores and Walmart’s dedication towards excellent consumer experience, it may soon be at the top.
Walmart was an early adopter of RFID, to track inventory, and has an incubator called Store No. 8, to work with startups, venture capitalists and academics to develop its own proprietary robotics, virtual and augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence technology.
Providing great customer service
Not very long ago, Walmart has launched the concept of pick-up towers in some of its stores. They are located at the entrance and retrieve online orders of the customers. All customers need to do is sign the barcode, and within 45 seconds, their order will appear on the conveyer belt.
Another aspect in customer experience that Walmart is hoping to improve is to scan and go shopping. Even the customer sin pharmacy and money services will be able to use Walmart app for some checkout processes. By reducing the amount of wait time in a line, Walmart has not only gained another brownie point in customer experience, the tech. are they use is similar to the Amazon Go concept store. This also put them neck to neck with the competition.
No more lines?
One way Walmart has been integrating more and more with tech for a smoother functioning is to use face recognition tech to identify unhappy or frustrated shoppers. As the machine detects a higher level of frustration levels, it would prompt more staff to run the check-out process when needed. This way, extra staff will only be present at the counter when needed.
A recent patent application filed by Walmart for IoT tags, it looks like they are going for monitoring product usage. This will lead to an auto replacement of products as necessary and keep an eye on expiry date and product recalls. These sensors use a variety of techs like Bluetooth, barcodes, radio frequencies and RFID tags. And provide Walmart with a huge amount of data including what time of the day are the products and where. This data could help create personalized advertising and expand cross-selling opportunities.