Retail giant touts new digital store maps, upgraded website
Walmart Inc. is aiming to get customers in and out of its stores more smoothly this upcoming holiday season, adding roving checkout scanners and digital maps to help shoppers.
The retail giant announced Tuesday a host of improvements intended to streamline how its customers shop over the busy holidays, including Check Out With Me, a service that will place Walmart workers with handheld scanners in the busiest areas of its stores, such as the garden center and electronics, so customers can grab a big item and pay for it right there, skipping the regular checkout lines.
While the service is intended for shoppers with one or two bulky items, it will be available for all, Walmart said.
A digital map of each store will also be available on Walmart’s smartphone app, showing the exact locations of items. The company also said it will offer a wider variety of items and brands, and online shoppers can take advantage of an upgraded website at Walmart.com that will feature curated holiday content and improvements to its home and fashion departments.
Walmart WMT, +0.87% is also making more items eligible for free two-day shipping without a membership fee.
“Every day we’re committed to providing customers with the broadest assortment of quality products at great prices, but, during the holidays, we take that promise up a notch,” Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S., said in a statement.
The technological tweaks come as Walmart is also opening a cashierless store/innovation lab for its Sam’s Club unit in Dallas that will feature machine learning and augmented-reality technology.
Earlier this month, Walmart cut its fiscal-year profit forecast, and said in its most recent earnings report that it is looking to reallocate capital to modernize its operations, including technology and e-commerce.
Aside from tough competition in a tight retail market from Target Corp. TGT, +2.64% and other big-box stores, Walmart’s refocus on technology comes as Amazon.com Inc. AMZN, -6.33% is reportedly gearing up to open thousands of cashierless Amazon Go stores nationwide in the coming years, potentially shaking up the retail industry even more.
Walmart shares are up about 1% this year, compared to a 1% decline in 2018 for the Dow Jones Industrial Average DJIA, -0.99% , of which it is a component.