Walmart relies on conversational generative AI assistants9. October 2023
Walmart relies on conversational generative AI assistants
New York, October 9th 2023
The generative AI-powered shopping assistant is designed to assist customers not only with direct inquiries, but also with larger projects such as planning events, decorating homes, or comparing gift purchases based on specific details about the recipient.
Walmart will also use generative AI to create 3D models of products from images. This enables realistic visualization of furniture, clothing and electronics in physical spaces. It’s similar to Wayfair’s recently released “Decorify” service, which allows users to upload photos of their homes and see how they look when redecorated with various styles of furniture available on Wayfair.
Walmart claims that using generative AI for 3D modeling will significantly reduce costs compared to traditional techniques, reducing the modeling price by hundreds of dollars per item and reducing turnaround time to minutes instead of weeks.
While Walmart is eager to showcase its increasing experiments with generative AI, the company remains cautious about naming vendors or models it is specifically using. The company explains this by saying that it wants to remain flexible on this point.
The push into generative AI follows years in which Walmart offered simpler chatbots for transactions. Walmart has been working with AI voice assistants since 2017.
For example, Walmart’s Store Nº8 incubation division has had a number of conversational AI projects, including a “Text to Shop” feature that allows shoppers to send their list to a chatbot and the “Ask Sam” voice app to answer employee questions about product pricing and locations. Walmart topped it all off by acquiring conversational design company Botmock at the end of 2021.
The retail giant’s massive size provides an advantage when piloting AI, but also has greater consequences when problems arise. Therefore, the final form of generative AI tools will likely reflect the results of any pilot programs.
In another way, Walmart is trying to keep up with this particular technology. But it’s not alone. Microsoft made ChatGPT an integral part of online shopping, Shopify created a generative AI chatbot called Sidekick, and Instacart embedded ChatGPT into its search functionality.