Walmart staff expand use of 'Ask Sam' voice-enabled tech app

Employees at US retailer Walmart have extended the use of a voice-enabled mobile app, designed to help them get answers they need to serve customers’ needs.

The technology, dubbed ‘Ask Sam’, which in reference to Walmart founder Samuel Walton, allows staff to voice their queries and access immediate responses.

By accessing the platform, workers can gather information about store maps, prices, the location of products, birthdays and anniversaries. It can also be used to check email, store sales information, and for printing.

In recent months, ‘Ask Sam’ has also been utilised for information related to the Covid-19 outbreak, including for seeking the latest guidelines and guidance about the pandemic with the support of video content.

The app, which was originally designed and used by Walmart’s wholesale arm Sam’s Club, gives staff an opportunity to spend more time on the shop floor with customers. It has been built with machine learning capabilities, and the idea is it should become more sophisticated in its answers over time.

Meng Chee, executive vice president & chief product officer at Walmart, commented: “We are constantly engaging associates for feedback – in fact, it’s where some of our best ideas and innovations have come from.

“Maintaining a customer-centric mindset and willingness to experiment will allow us to continuously improve and innovate the products, services and solutions we offer associates, and in turn, the value we provide for customers.”

The app also provides managers with an additional way to quickly alert staff to critical situations, as it has a built-in emergency feature. At the push of a button, alerts – such as “stay inside a facility”, “exit a facility”, or “all clear” – can be sent to people on and off the clock through multiple staff applications.