Walmart makes a rare CES appearance to promote AI-powered shopping

Key Takeaways:

– Walmart is partnering with Microsoft to build AI-powered shopping experiences.
– The AI will be powered by large language models from Microsoft and Walmart’s own proprietary technologies.
– The AI search functions will be available on mobile devices and the website, giving shoppers more options for interacting with the retailer’s digital inventory.
– The algorithms will highlight relevant product categories and provide curated lists of the best items.
– The AI search functions will also be used to streamline job-related tasks and workflows for store associates.
– Walmart is developing an AI tool to verify customer purchases, eliminating the need for checking receipts.
– Walmart is also using AI to predict what items in a shopper’s cart need to be replenished.
– Walmart plans to incorporate augmented reality into its shopping experience with a beta social commerce offering called ‘Shop with Friends’.
– Walmart is expanding its drone delivery testing program to more shoppers in Texas.

engadget:

When Walmart announced it would be holding a CES keynote for the first time, we were admittedly a little skeptical. Now it all makes sense, though: America’s largest retailer came to CES 2024 in Las Vegas to talk about AI. In a joint announcement on Tuesday, the company said that it’s teaming up with Microsoft to build what it bills as AI-powered shopping experiences. In his keynote, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon described how the integration of AI across its website and apps will be used to study shopper behavior and suggest future purchases.

As you might expect, given Microsoft’s involvement, the artificial intelligence underpinning these experiences will be powered by large language models made available through this partnership with Microsoft. The AI it plans on deploying will use a combination of retail-specific search functions based on Walmart’s own proprietary technologies and Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service.

Walmart’s new generative AI-powered search functions will be available on iOS and Android mobile devices as well as through the company’s website. The new search features will give shoppers more options for interacting with the retailer’s digital inventory. For example, instead of searching for items like soda and chips, a shopper can look for product recommendations for specific events like a birthday celebration or game day watch party by telling the website, in natural language, what they need help shopping for.

During the keynote, McMilon said that the algorithms are designed to highlight relevant product categories after a search that will “serve up a curated list of the best items.” These new algorithmic shopping initiatives will directly compete with Google’s AI search tool SGE and Amazon’s large language model-powered product listing program.

While it seems that most of the efforts on the AI front are consumer-facing, the company said new AI search functions will not just help shoppers. It will also expand tools available to store associates intended to help streamline job-related tasks and workflows. This can also be seen in its announcement that at Sam’s Club, which is owned by Walmart, employees will soon no longer need to check shopping receipts as people leave stores. Instead, it will deploy an AI tool that verifies customer purchases.

Walmart

Additionally, Walmart teased ‘Walmart InHome Replenishment,’ which also will use artificial intelligence to predict what items in a shopper’s cart need to be replenished in a timely manner. This offering will be added as an extension to its ‘InHome’ program that became available to Walmart+ shoppers in 2019.

Aside from AI, the retailer also teased plans to weave augmented reality into its shopping experience. The company teased ‘Shop with Friends,’ a beta social commerce offering that uses augmented reality to allow shoppers the option to share virtual outfits with friends for feedback while shopping. Lastly, Walmart will expand its drone delivery testing program to more shoppers in Texas as a starting point. 1.8 million additional households will get access to drone delivery services that help shoppers get items as fast as 30 minutes.

We’re reporting live from CES 2024 in Las Vegas from January 6-12. Keep up with all the latest news from the show here.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/walmart-makes-a-rare-ces-appearance-to-promote-ai-powered-shopping-005538465.html?src=rss
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AI Eclipse TLDR:

Walmart made its first-ever appearance at CES 2024 in Las Vegas to discuss its plans for AI-powered shopping experiences. The retail giant announced a partnership with Microsoft to integrate AI across its website and apps, using AI to study shopper behavior and provide personalized product recommendations. The AI technology will be powered by large language models from Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI service and Walmart’s proprietary technologies. The new AI-powered search functions will allow shoppers to interact with Walmart’s digital inventory more effectively, such as requesting product recommendations for specific events. The algorithms are designed to curate a list of the best items based on a user’s search. These new initiatives will compete with Google’s AI search tool and Amazon’s language model-powered product listing program. Walmart also revealed plans to leverage AI for store associates, streamlining job-related tasks and workflows. For instance, at Sam’s Club, Walmart’s subsidiary, an AI tool will verify customer purchases, eliminating the need for manual receipt checks. Additionally, Walmart introduced “Walmart InHome Replenishment,” which utilizes AI to predict items that need to be replenished in a shopper’s cart. The company also teased the integration of augmented reality into the shopping experience with “Shop with Friends,” allowing shoppers to share virtual outfits with friends for feedback. Furthermore, Walmart will expand its drone delivery testing program to more households in Texas, providing delivery within 30 minutes.