PYMNTS Intelligence Banner June 2024

Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service Boosts Walmart’s AI-Powered Tools

Microsoft’s Azure OpenAI Service contributes to many of the new generative artificial intelligence (AI)-powered tools that Walmart has rolled out for its shoppers and associates.

As the retailer builds generative AI into the search function of its digital shopping experience, it is using large language models (LLMs) available in Microsoft Azure OpenAI Service as well as retail-specific models Walmart has built itself, Microsoft said in a Tuesday (Jan. 9) blog post.

Walmart is combining these LLMs with its own proprietary data and technology to provide shoppers with a curated list of items they are looking for, according to the post.

“One of the reasons why Walmart and other leading retailers are choosing Azure OpenAI Service is the ability to access the most advanced AI models in the world while backed by the enterprise-grade capabilities found in Microsoft Azure including security, compliance and regional availability,” Microsoft said in the post.

As Walmart’s AI-powered search function continues to grow, the experience will get increasingly interactive and conversational, the post said.

For example, a parent planning a birthday party for a child who loves unicorns can simply ask, “Help me plan a unicorn-themed party for my daughter,” rather than having to search for balloons, napkins, streamers and other products one at a time, according to the post.

“Generative AI in retail is particularly exciting as it can help usher in a new way of shopping; shifting from ‘scroll searching’ to ‘goal searching,’ which makes the digital shopping experience more seamless and intuitive,” Microsoft said in the post.

Another AI-powered tool launched by Walmart is a My Assistant app that helps the retailer’s non-store associates with tasks like summarizing long documents or creating new content, according to the post.

This tool, too, is powered by a combination of proprietary data belonging to Walmart and LLMs available in Azure OpenAI Service, the post said.

Azure OpenAI Service “brings together advanced models including ChatGPT and GPT-4 with the enterprise capabilities of Azure,” Microsoft Chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said during an earnings call in April.

At that time, the service had more than 2,500 customers — 10 times more than it had in the previous quarter — Nadella said.