Walmart this week introduced [email protected], the retail giant’s new app for U.S. store associates that provides an exclusive destination filled with new features to simplify daily tasks, serve customers and plan for life outside of work.
“The capabilities within the [email protected] app are built in-house by our product, technology and design teams and apply best-in-class technology, like machine learning, augmented reality, camera vision and artificial intelligence to tackle complex problems,” said Drew Holler, senior vice president, Walmart U.S. People Operations, and Kellie Romack, vice president, Product and Associate Experience, in a blog post Thursday.
In addition, by the end of this year, Walmart will offer more than 740,000 associates a new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone with which they can access [email protected] while at work — and can also use as their personal device if they choose. According to Hamshy Raveendran, head of product management at Samsung Electronics, “Such a large-scale mobile deployment is unprecedented in the retail industry, and it’s also the single largest enterprise mobility rollout that Samsung has supported to date.”
The [email protected] app includes Ask Sam, a voice-activated personal assistant for work. The Ask Sam feature saves time by letting associates ask the app questions to quickly locate merchandise and get answers for customers. Associates can even look up the metrics that drive their business. This feature was previously available to some associates as a separate app, but is now available to all associates through [email protected] .
“Ask Sam lets you ask a question or scan an item and instantly find out where the item is and how many we have in stock, right down to the spot on the shelf,” Romack explained. “If the customer wants to order it online, Ask Sam provides a barcode that they can scan on their phone to place an order right there.”
“We’ve seen huge engagement from our associates,” she added. “In just one week, we had more than 3 million questions for Ask Sam. About 98% of those questions are answered successfully, and we’re continually adding new questions and incorporating other feedback from associates.”
Among other features of the [email protected] app:
• Scheduling: The app lets associates easily view their shifts up to two weeks in advance, check on their upcoming paid time off and request changes to their schedule, if needed.
• Mobile Clock-In: Using geofencing technology, associates can clock in with a tap of a button once they arrive at their store. This gives them another convenient option to clock in.
• Push-to-Talk: Push-to-talk enables associates to instantly connect with one another, helping them work as a team to stay nimble and react to customers’ needs.
• Scanning: Associates can also scan items with the XCover Pro’s camera, which has been optimized to work seamlessly with Walmart’s barcode scanning process.
In the coming months, Walmart will be adding another feature to the [email protected] app that helps speed up the time it takes stocking associates to get items from the backroom to the sales floor. Instead of scanning each box individually, associates will just hold up their device and, using augmented reality, highlight the boxes that are ready to go. This helps product gets on the shelf faster. Since piloting it last year, the patent-pending capability takes a third of the time than the previous manual process.
“A great customer experience starts with a great associate experience, and our people will always be a competitive advantage,” said Holler and Romack. “As we make enhancements for our customers, we’re also rethinking how we can help our associates succeed in their roles today and deliver some of what they’ll need for the future. The right tools can be the difference between fast and frustrating.”
Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart is the nation's largest private employer, with more than 1.6 million workers in the United States.