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Walmart Aims to Provide Guiding Light to Wandering Shoppers

Walmart store

Lost in the supermarket? Walmart says it has a solution. Look for the blinking light.

The retail giant has begun testing digital labels that — after being activated by an app — light up to help shoppers find the products they are looking for within Walmart’s gargantuan stores, Bloomberg News reported Tuesday (Jan. 30).

According to the report, Walmart workers already use these devices at some locations. They flash green to guide shelf stockers, and blink blue to help product pickers fulfill online purchases. The company is planning a larger pilot later this year.

Bloomberg notes that the lights follow a long-time effort by Walmart to automate its warehouses to boost profitability and productivity by gleaning more revenue from its stores and website without having to hire a considerable amount of new employees.

“We’ll probably have about the same number of people in five years, but with a larger business,” John Furner, chief executive officer of Walmart’s U.S. operations, told the news outlet. “There will be jobs that we don’t have today. Some jobs will be the same, hopefully much better. And there will be jobs that go away.”

The company has also made a $9 billion investment in improving the in-store experience at 1,400 stores, as PYMNTS wrote earlier this month.

That investment was on display recently when Walmart unveiled a revamped Supercenter in Quakertown, Penn., featuring enhancements designed to create an immersive shopping experience and including an expanded pharmacy.

The remodel, which Walmart calls its “store of the future,” incorporates interactive technology that melds online and in-person shopping.

“Every change is thoughtful,” Hunter Hart, senior vice president at Walmart Realty, said in October regarding the retail overhaul. “They all ladder up to a greater goal: to meet our customers wherever they are, leveraging our stores to welcome people to a more modern, highly connected Walmart.”

At the same time, the company has been spending more on eCommerce and digital capabilities to compete with rival Amazon in the online arena.

“Leveraging its network of physical stores, Walmart offers services like curbside pickup and same-day delivery, providing customers with more convenient options for shopping,” PYMNTS wrote earlier this month. “The company has also been investing in technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics to improve efficiency in its operations.”

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