How cloud-powered AI tools are enabling personalized customer experiences at Walmart

A decade ago, businesses were focused on transitioning from on-premises infrastructure to cloud-based systems. We have come a long way since then, with the trend now revolving around emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). At Walmart, we recognize that our customers’ preferences are shifting from a ‘do it with me’ to ‘do it for me’ mindset and AI/ML are taking center stage to meet their evolving needs.

The image shows a woman shopping at the fruits and vegetable section inside a Walmart store with a cart. There are icons depicting AI, cloud, inventory management and last mile delivery

The role of AI in customer experiences

Every customer interaction, both online and in-store, generates data that helps us deliver highly personalized experiences. Whether you are searching for a product, adding something to your cart or making a transaction—we are continuously processing data in real-time to improve your shopping journey. This data, in turn, serves as the basis for AI-powered tools that are empowering customers, members and associates.

Hosting a family gathering and want to make sure you find all the right items from food to decor? Once you key in your query, our GenAI-powered search tool conducts a quick analysis of real-time data, available products and search intent and shows you only the most relevant results. This way, you don’t have to spend time applying multiple filters and endlessly scrolling.

Customers can also use Walmart Voice Order which enables them to pair their Walmart accounts to their smart speakers and mobile devices. By using base natural language understanding (NLU) capabilities to understand queries and determine which actions are required, the systems can quickly identify the conversation’s context and a customer’s needs.

Associates can find items quickly and assist customers and members through our voice assistant, Ask Sam. The app enables them to locate items, access store maps, look up prices and view sales information, check messages and more. 


AI-powered inventory management and supply chain optimization

Imagine you want to pick up a last-minute gift for your friend, but the Walmart store you walk into does not have the item you want in stock. Not to worry, because our associates can use real-time inventory data to find a store nearby that does have it in stock and reserve it for you, with the option to pick it up or have it delivered to your doorstep.

Our inventory management systems connect to our 4,700 stores, fulfillment centers, distribution centers and suppliers. AI algorithms adapt to real-time changes in demand, enabling quick replenishment of stocks and maintaining adequate inventory levels across different regions and stores. 

AI also plays a significant role in optimizing supply chain operations, such as matching drivers and orders to create a more efficient last-mile delivery network. By using AI to balance speed and cost, we reduce delivery times and delight customers when their orders arrive on time.

Where the magic happens: Our triplet model and the Element platform

Walmart's data transformation and AI-powered experiences are powered by our 'triplet model' which is one of the largest multi-hybrid clouds. It consists of two vendor-provided clouds and one private cloud which work together seamlessly in East, West and Central locations in the U.S. In addition to these regional clouds, we also have edge clouds located in our stores and clubs which enable us to achieve the necessary scale while maintaining the ability to deliver high-quality experiences with low latency, close to the customer. 

In line with our drive for innovation, we recently launched Element, a machine learning platform designed for data scientists, data engineers, ML engineers and application developers engaged across the AI solution lifecycle in retail. Element simplifies AI/ML adoption at scale, offering best-in-class tools that not only deliver cost savings but also improve the efficiency of and reduce the time-to-market for AI solutions. And most importantly, Element sets the bar for ethical and responsible AI in retail.

Our commitment to responsible AI

Using technology responsibly is crucial to our Walmart values. We ensure that we prioritize customer trust and adhere to our responsible AI pledge–centered around six commitments that highlight how customers, members and associates can expect us to use AI responsibly, and throughout all phases of AI technology.

A people-led, tech-powered organization

While AI plays a significant role in delivering the best experiences for customers, we remain a people-led organization. We will always rely on our associates' expertise and experience that serve as the driving force behind our continued innovation.

Watch the podcast 

Discover more about how Walmart leverages cloud technology and AI to transform customer, member and associate experiences in this podcast featuring Anil Madan, hosted by Vishal Krishna, Founder, UpStreamLife.