Walmart’s Smartphone Adoption is Transforming the Employee Experience – and How Other Retailers Can Follow Suit

Store associates are a retailer’s most significant ongoing investment – so it makes sense to empower them with the right technology.

Walmart has done this with its plan to give its 740,000 store associates a Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro. The device comes with an in-house built app – Me@Walmart – to help with store operations tasks and associates can also use it for personal use.

Empowering associates is a great decision to not only deliver an enhanced customer experience, but also contribute to the attraction and retention of talent in a competitive market. However, it is worth remembering you don’t need to be of Walmart’s size to implement such technology into your operations.

Turning store associates into high-value sales consultants

At Scandit, we have been helping retailers turn store associates into high-value sales consultants. By improving the employee experience, store associates will become more efficient and deliver a more personalized customer experience.

The pandemic has changed the landscape. Stores need to handle additional tasks like order fulfillment due to the surge in e-commerce. They also need to provide a safer environment for associates – sharing scanning devices is now much more problematic.

The Me@Walmart app allows store associates to function more efficiently on a day-to-day basis via a single app. This includes clocking in, scheduling shifts, responding to customer inquiries – all via their Samsung smartphone.

But, as we will show below – with our mobile computer vision technology paired with smartphones – retailers can do this and more.

DM switches to a COPE-model for store staff

An excellent example of this is the European drugstore retailer dm. It went for a corporate-owned personally enabled (COPE) strategy, similar to that which Walmart has adopted. The app – using Scandit’s Barcode Scanner SDK – connects each store associate to the dm infrastructure.

dm store staff have 24×7, real-time access to relevant product information enabling them to respond to customer queries by simply scanning products using their Scandit-powered employee app.

The app seamlessly connects with dm’s SAP systems to retrieve detailed product information.

DM logo in store

Empower staff with augmented reality

In the coming months, Walmart said it plans to implement augmented reality (AR) on its smartphone app for shelf management. In this case, the store assistant scans the shelf to get information overlaid on the device’s screen. Initial pilots suggest Walmart’s new app means finding the right item takes just a third of the time compared to manual searches.

AR is easily available through our Barcode Scanner SDK as an add-on. By enabling AR, an app using our software can scan single or multiple barcodes (MatrixScan) with a simple sweep with the camera to receive instant on-screen information.

As you can see in the graphic below, a store associate equipped with a smartphone with MatrixScan AR can make easy work of time-consuming shelf management tasks.

In this case, just one sweep of the phone can reveal markdowns, incorrect prices, out of stocks, and inventory. The latter is now crucial in this new era of Ship-from-Store where there is heightened demand on in-store inventory and the need to increase efficiency across all channels is a priority.

shelf management

Another area where AR and MatrixScan can play a considerable role is buy online, pick up in store (BOPIS). When the customer arrives at the store to pick up a purchase, the store associate would normally be faced with a series of packages.

As all of them have a barcode, picking the right one is just a case of scanning and selecting the correct package once it’s highlighted on the device screen.

One device to rule them all

Barcode scanning has long been integral to store operations. However, to do this, stores have traditionally had to rely on a range of devices. These days a store associate will have to shift between shelf management, order fulfillment, click and collect, as well as helping customers – a single smartphone can handle this and more.

use cases self scanning

Smartphones are also cheaper to implement with a significantly lower TCO than dedicated scanners. This means it’s more cost-effective for stores to hand them out to associates – as Walmart has done with the Samsung devices.

Samsung is a partner of ours so if you want to use our technology with the Galaxy XCover Pro then the process is all the easier for you.

Alternatively, retailers could opt for a bring your own device (BYOD) strategy. This can be an excellent way to bring in temporary staff for peak times.

Smartphone scanning for staff is now mainstream

Walmart is not the first retailer to do so, but smartphone scanning has reached the mainstream when the world’s biggest joins the club.

The benefits to it are clear. Smartphone scanning puts one device – with multiple uses – into the hands of the store associate. Doing so not only makes them more efficient, it allows them to work with technology they are comfortable with and know. For the retailer, there are significant cost savings by consolidating various employee management systems into one.

As the dust settles from the pandemic, there is a clear need for retailers to re-examine how their stores are digitized. By empowering staff, retailers will be able to handle the new demands that have emerged in the post-Covid era.

We will be talking about these factors more at the upcoming NRF Retail Converge in the session titled “More Digital. More Human. Redefining Stores Post-Covid“.