Indian Technology News
November 14, 2017
Walmart Stores, the world’s biggest retailer, is pushing the envelope in technology innovations, which include installing robots at its stores for specific jobs and applying technology for in-home deliveries.
A cornerstone of these innovations is the company’s Walmart Labs in Bengaluru, India, which plays a significant role in helping the retailer stay ahead, Walmart’s chief technology officer Jeremy King told ET’s Mugdha Variyar in an interview in San Francisco. Edited excerpts:
What’s your vision for technology innovations at Walmart? We are applying machine-learning across the board. We are trying to optimize our business processes. We have a number of huge successes in search, supply chain, and even in last-mile delivery. For example, to figure the best route for delivery.
Even for picking orders in the warehouse, we have applied machine-learning and have seen unbelievable productivity. We are working with a couple of startups with autonomous robots to work on things that we may not do very well.
How do you detect a mislabeled price on a shelf? It is hard for a human. A robot can roll down the aisle and detect it. We have started trials in a few stores and they are doing well. It allows our associates to spend more time with our customers.
How is your team at Walmart Labs in Bengaluru pitching in for this? We have huge amounts of data and massive scale and so are able to attract senior engineers, data scientists and machine-learning experts (to Walmart Labs) to push our innovations. We have a competitive intelligence and analytics team in Bengaluru. It is a massive job to look at competitors, who change prices frequently.
There is a team to detect that and react to that. This is done exclusively at the Bengaluru Walmart Labs. There are other teams (in Bengaluru), such as for sourcing, which helps us understand which warehouse to pull items from when a person orders. We work in a local ownership model, so 90% of the work is done (in Bengaluru) independently.
Walmart acquired Jet.com last year. How has the integration been so far? Jet.com fulfills several things for us. It has a great tech team and products that we can apply to several things. For example, we are using their warehouse management system for all of Walmart. The search teams are being combined. We are applying their experiments piece by piece into the Walmart ecosystem.
How much of that has helped push online sales for Walmart? Walmart has been a multi-channel retailer since 1999, when we started Dotcom. We know how to be multi-channel. We have grown the e-commerce (segment) three times faster than the market largely because of Walmart.com. We have changed from a channel-specific view to a customer perspective. We have customers who order online and pick them up at a store.
You said customer experience is top priority. What innovations have you brought in? Customers are using their phones at our stores to use Walmart Pay and check order history. Recently we launched Pickup, which means if a customer is coming to the store to pick up (products purchased online), they can inform the store and we will be ready with the order outside.
We have also started Pickup Towers. The number one reason for customers to not go to the store is the long lines. Customers can now scan items themselves. One second in checkout translates to millions of dollars.
Copyright 2017 FFC Information Solution. All Rights Reserved.
Quality News Today is an ASQ member benefit offering quality related news
from around the world every business day.