Walmart experiments with AI to enhance customers’ shopping experiences


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People play a pallet packing game at the Walmart booth during the CES tech show Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Las Vegas.

John Locher/AP

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John Locher/AP

People play a pallet packing game at the Walmart booth during the CES tech show Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Las Vegas.

John Locher/AP

LAS VEGAS — Walmart has unveiled plans to dive further into the world of artificial intelligence — and drones — to improve its customers’ shopping experiences.

In a Tuesday keynote at the CES trade show in Las Vegas, the nation’s largest retailer announced it will be expanding its drone delivery to 1.8 million additional households in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area later this year. Drones aren’t new to Walmart — which has already completed 20,000 drone deliveries across seven states to date — but company leaders say that this expansion is a sign of growing demand and efficiency.

Walmart executives said no other rival has gotten this close to this type of drone concentration of households in a big metro market.

Among AI advances, Walmart announced a generative AI-powered search tool for iOS users that suggests relevant products for consumer queries, ranging from football watch parties to bridal showers.

The company also provided a glimpse into “InHome Replenishment,” which aims to use AI to learn consumers’ shopping habits and keep them stocked on their favorite groceries, as well as a beta platform that allows customers to create outfits virtually and get feedback from their friends.

Meanwhile Sam’s Club, which Walmart owns, has a new twist on checking out — whether it’s with the “scan and go” technology, self-checkout or just using a traditional staffed register. Instead of stopping at a cashier to show the receipt, cameras at the stores’ exits take a picture of what’s in shoppers’ carts to confirm purchases.

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This camera technology is available in 10 clubs so far, according to Sam’s Club CEO Chris Nicholas, and is being rolled out further later this year.