Walmart decided to bring technological experimentation down to the store level as it tests tech in application but also in terms of how consumers respond to an enhanced retail environment.
The addition of emerging technology in brick-and-mortar store operations is imperative for retailers who want to maximize their omnichannel potential, but consumers need to understand just what they are experiencing as artificial intelligence, virtual reality and other tech functions enter their shopping reality.
In a Levittown, NY, Neighborhood Market, Walmart introduced what it dubbed an Intelligent Retail Lab, an in-store facility designed to test, assess and apply what the company is learning from a forest of cameras installed in the ceiling. As the cameras track shopper habits, a range of signage and interactive displays inform customers about just what’s going on in the store.
The Levittown Neighborhood Market combines detailed tracking of customers with artificial intelligence, which can give Walmart a detailed understanding of how consumers shop the store. In that way, Walmart gathers shopping data in the store at something like the same depth it can from the company’s e-commerce business.
Walmart determined to be upfront about what it’s doing in the store. Beyond the obvious camera array above, consumers can see what the store is about by checking out kiosks across the sales floor and in the checkout area. The kiosks and related signage, including an array of information posted right on the front doors, allow consumers to learn about what the artificial intelligence initiative is and what it is doing in the store. Computer banks behind tinted windows in the back of the store signal the potential power of the technology, and can suggest to shoppers that what has been science fiction is now a technological reality.
For more on Walmart’s Intelligent Retail Lab, see the June 24 issue of HomeWorld Business.