Walmart’s Generative AI search puts more time back in customers' hands

Staff writer

Jan. 30, 2024 | 3 min read

 The image​​​​ shows a man ordering a product using the text-to-shop feature on the Walmart app.

Walmart is harnessing the power of Generative AI to help customers find their desired products quickly and make confident purchase decisions. Our AI story, however, isn't new.

Long before Large Language Models (LLMs) became the talk of the town, Walmart leveraged AI/ML to build Natural Language Processing (NLP) models that effectively speak retail, or even more specifically, speak Walmart retail. This capability is powering multiple use cases across the company today.

Walmart’s differentiator is its retail tech intelligence built over six decades of serving customers and members around the world. Be it holiday trends in the Midwest or the best snacks on the East Coast, AI is quietly at work predicting customer needs and helping us personalize experiences no matter where they are.

Walmart has an open-source, fine-tuned model, along with OpenAI, that allows Walmart customers to receive responses to their prompts that are specific to Walmart. With this process, we’re able to understand our customers’ needs at an even deeper level and generate personalized responses and product suggestions. Therein lies the magic.

Taking the guessing game out of searching

Consider this: An average American family, juggling priorities, spends nearly six hours per week on household planning and shopping. What if those hours could instead turn into quality family time? Throw in a special life milestone or a celebration and much of a family’s efforts can go into thinking of products to buy rather than enjoying moments that matter. With Walmart’s Generative AI Search, that is set to change.


Last year, a customer hosting a viewing party, may have searched for “cheese snacks,” “football décor,” “soda,” “forks,” “bowls” and more. That’s a lot of searches and a lot of time! With this new capability, Walmart removes the burden of coming up with everything you need for this party, from the customer over to us. Think of it as a shopping genie who’s got you covered. 

What’s more, a single search prompt does the job. A customer can simply key in their need in natural language: “Help me plan a football watch party” or “What supplies do I need for a newborn?” and voila! Walmart’s GenAI Search gets to work pulling the list of all the relevant products in no time and helps you choose by guiding your intent. By empowering you to simply articulate an event, instead of having to worry about cracking the right queries and keywords for each product you need, our GenAI Search eliminates planning woes and becomes an efficient partner in your journey of discovery.

Here’s how Walmart GenAI Search works 

We leverage GenAI to better understand the intent of the customer based on the query, session and engagement with the items. Then we create a holistic product offering in groups for the customer, following the ‘Mutually exclusive, collectively exhaustive (MECE)’ principle. With a customer’s search, our system will create distinct categories that collectively cover all possible customer needs, avoiding overlap or gaps.

Not only will our GenAI Search functions provide you with smarter results, but GenAI also aids in decision-making, creating tools that highlight priority product features. We are currently testing how to condense reviews into concise summaries, so you can learn from other customers about the features they have enjoyed or discover aspects to help you decide if the product you’re looking for suits your preferences.

The future of retail starts with your search 

Our objective of using GenAI Search is simple—give time back to our customers to enjoy life instead of spending their days searching, scrolling and tapping. GenAI-powered experiences enable us to be more to our customers—their partners in accomplishing broader missions.

GenAI Search is now available on the Walmart iOS shopping app in the U.S. and the experience is coming soon to Android and web. The more we work on it and the more our customers use it, the more we can help our customers save money and live better. 

With GenAI, Walmart has the most powerful search in all of today’s retail.