Walmart experiments with AI to enhance customers’ shopping experiences

People walk by the Walmart booth during the CES tech show Tuesday, Jan. 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

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.

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.