Last month, retail giant Walmart announced a new generative AI tool aimed at helping office workers. Now, the company is demonstrating how similar tech can benefit its shoppers. Walmart’s latest foray into AI highlights its potential to transform the retail experience for customers.
With its vast resources and reach, Walmart has the ability to implement generative AI however it chooses. The applications it is currently prioritizing indicate where Walmart sees the most value today.
On Thursday, Walmart previewed two AI-powered tools in San Francisco that could soon roll out to customers. One is a virtual shopping assistant designed to aid customers with complex projects like planning a party or decorating a home. This assistant can also help customers select products best suited to their needs, such as recommending a phone for a 10-year-old.
The second tool leverages generative AI to construct 3D models from static product images. This allows customers to visualize items in realistic contexts. Clothes can be seen on virtual models, while furniture and electronics are placed inside digital renderings of customers’ living spaces.
Generating 3D models via AI rather than traditional techniques can reduce costs by hundreds of dollars per item. It also accelerates the process from weeks to minutes.
Walmart was reluctant to disclose the specific AI technologies powering these tools. However, officials indicated flexibility in selecting whoever provides the best and most affordable capabilities at any given time.
This foray into generative AI builds on Walmart’s years of experience with shopping chatbots. The company began chatbot pilots in 2019, expanded tests in 2020, and rolled out bots enterprise-wide last year. While useful for straightforward transactions, those systems lack capabilities for more nuanced interactions.
Walmart’s latest AI advancements aim to provide customers with an enhanced, interactive shopping experience. As adoption grows, generative AI looks poised to reshape retail in terms of costs, efficiency, and personalization. With its vast resources and reach, Walmart could lead this retail AI transformation.
The applications Walmart is exploring highlight the widening potential of generative AI across industries. Retailers like Walmart stand to benefit enormously from AI’s ability to create custom 3D models and human-like conversational agents rapidly and affordably.
Beyond retail, generative AI could also transform sectors like healthcare, finance, and transportation. Systems can be customized to each industry’s specific needs.
Of course, concerns remain around generative AI, including its potential to spread misinformation if not properly monitored. As a leader in retail AI, Walmart will need to ensure transparency in how its tools operate.
Still, Walmart’s latest advancements signal a promising AI-enabled future of retail. Shoppers could enjoy personalized recommendations from virtual assistants along with enhanced visualization tools. Meanwhile, efficiencies for retailers like Walmart could translate to greater convenience and lower costs for customers.
As Walmart continues innovating with AI, it will be interesting to watch the ripple effects on retail and beyond. If executed thoughtfully, generative AI could usher in the next evolution of digital experiences across industries. Walmart’s latest plans provide an intriguing glimpse into this emerging AI-driven landscape.