Walmart is giving customer-facing employees a new tool to help them answer shoppers' questions.
A smartphone app called "Ask Sam" will equip associates to look up prices, product locations, information on sales and other matters of potential customer interest, Meng Chee, Walmart's executive vice president and chief product officer, wrote today in a post on the company's blog. Walmart initially tested the app at Sam's Stores last year, he said.
"Our goal as a product organization is to create products, services and platform capabilities that make our associates’ and customers’ lives easier," he wrote.
Chee noted that the app should give associates more confidence in fielding customers' queries and enable them to do so more efficiently.
Because the app employs machine learning, Chee said, it should "become more sophisticated with higher levels of accuracy over time."
Moreover, he continued, Walmart will monitor the kinds of questions associates are encountering and adjust store operations accordingly.
While many of Ask Sam's features are designed for frequent use, another set of capabilities has been included for emergencies. An emergency alert system will allow quick transmission of information to all employees in an area. One alert, Chee wrote, advises workers to stay inside a store. "This alert is utilized when an emergency is near the associate’s store, and advises associates to use lockdown procedures, moving associates and customers to a secure area." Another alert "instructs associates to implement evacuation procedures, getting associates and customers out of harm’s way," he added. Finally, there's an "all clear" alert for use when a situation has been resolved.
In other news, on July 20, Walmart announced a $3.5 billion technology expansion in Canada. Walmart said its five-year plan aims to “to generate significant growth and to make the online and in-store shopping experience simpler, faster and more convenient for Walmart’s customers.”
The retailer also announced last week that it will open more health clinics in Greater Atlanta by the end of the year.