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Walmart Spotlights Technology Innovation At Investors Meeting

On Tuesday, October 16, Walmart held its annual Investment Community Meeting, where executives emphasized Walmart’s leadership in technology innovation initiatives. The Shop the Room function that Walmart.com introduced in the online home department is one example of how the company has been evolving.

CEO Doug McMillon said that Walmart would implement technology-based initiatives across the organization from operations, where it is using bots to complete repetitive tasks in functions such as accounting, to merchandising, where it is using data to offer customers better choices rather than a laundry list of products associated with searches.

Brett Biggs, company evp and CFO, pointed out that the Walmart tech incubator in Austin, TX, is developing analytic, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities the company can apply.

Briggs said that Walmart continues to prioritize comparable sales and e-commerce growth over new stores, while at the same time elevating the customer experience in brick and mortar shopping.

As for digital, Marc Lore, president and CEO, Walmart e-commerce, pointed out that Shop the Room offers improved imagery and easy shopping on Walmart.com. While expanding that feature, Walmart has relaunched its Jet.com site to push the operation upmarket and focus on affluent urban Millenials. It is doing so by stepping beyond the notion of curation by establishing themed functions for major cities even as it provides more premium national brands. As such, Walmart is aligning the Jet business with consumer preferences as expressed nationally and locally, while at the same time differentiating Jet.com from Walmart.com.

To leverage the store base in support of the online function, Walmart is expanding and enhancing delivery operations. The company also will build on its native digital brands whether developed by its recent acquisitions, such as ModCloth and Hayneedle, or created internally, as in the case of the Allswell mattress brand, not only to offer unique products but also to use the newly integrated operations in generating additional shopping occasions from existing and new customers.

Walmart.com also is driving into the conversational commerce space with its Jetblack initiative, Lore pointed out, enabling voice and text purchasing supported with smart recommendations that simplify and personalize the experience.