Retail

Walmart Bolsters Artificial Intelligence Efforts

Walmart Bolsters AI, Advertising Efforts

Beyond serving as a place to pick up groceries on the evening commute, Walmart customer service is doing a lot of work behind the scenes that customers might not even know about, on efforts such as artificial intelligence (AI) and advertising.

Doug McMillon, the company’s CEO, notes the retailer is progressing to serve as a “digital enterprise,” CNBC reported.

For instance, Walmart is experimenting with a New York lab to tap into AI. In addition, the company acquired Polymorph Labs for an unreported amount with the aim of leveraging their technology to make advertising easier for smaller brands. The retailer also recently purchased startup Aspectiva, a firm that observes shoppers’ browsing behaviors and aids in making product recommendations.

At the same time, Walmart is looking to beef up its advertising business. (Amazon became the third biggest ad platform in 2018 in the United States, trailing Facebook and Google.) McMillon said on Thursday (May 16), “As we think about new revenue and income streams, we know we can do more in the advertising space.”

The news comes as Walmart surprised investors with better-than-expected earnings when the first-quarter results went out on Thursday (May 16), despite a recent string of disappointing news updates from the retail sector. In fact, the retailer put up its best same-store sales results in about nine years.

Walmart told investors the early results for the year meant the world’s biggest retailer by sales is in “a good position” to achieve its goals for the full year, even though it will face tougher comparisons during Q2.

Walmart reported net income of $3.84 billion by the numbers, or EPS of $1.13, handily surpassing the $1.02 forecast. But sales clocked in just below expectations, at $123.93 billion versus the $125.03 billion expected. Same-store sales growth was solid, up 3.4 percent compared to the 3.3 percent forecast.

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