Bentonville, Arkansas-based Walmart has unveiled [email protected], a new app built in-house by Walmart Global Tech for U.S. store associates. It provides an exclusive destination filled with new features to simplify daily tasks, serve customers and plan for life outside of work.
“A great customer experience starts with a great associate experience, and our people will always be a competitive advantage. 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,” said Drew Holler, SVP of Walmart U.S. people operations, and Kellie Romack, VP of product and associate experience
The idea of the app started as a way to manage associates’ schedules and has grown into a single in-store app for U.S. associates, saving them time and helping them be more efficient.
Holler and Romack said they believe it’s the first of its kind in the retail industry.
Associates also are being given a new device to use the app. By the end of the year, Walmart plans to offer more than 740,000 associates a new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone, case and protection plan to use — free of charge. Associates will only be able to access the app’s work features while they’re on the clock, but they can also use the smartphone as their own personal device if they want.
Walmart will not have access to any personal data, just like its longstanding BYOD program, according to Holler and Romack.
Until now, associates have shared company handheld devices. The company did an initial test with the new smartphones earlier this year, and said the response was good.
The capabilities within the [email protected] app are built in-house by Walmart’s 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. .
Here are a few of the features the [email protected] app offers:
- 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: Constant communication is essential. Walkie talkies were one solution, but not every associate has one. 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; and
- 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 through [email protected]
In the coming months, Walmart will add 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 just hold up their device and, using augmented reality, highlight the boxes that are ready to go. Product gets on the shelf faster. In fact, since piloting it last year, this patent-pending capability takes a third of the time than the previous manual process, Holler and Romack said.