Walmart to give smartphones to 740,000 workers so they can use a new company app

Photo (c) artran - Getty Images

The company wants to use the app to make workers' lives easier and improve customer satisfaction

Walmart thinks its customer service is so important that it has decided to connect much of its employee base together by giving 740,000 associates a new smartphone loaded with a new all-in-one associate app -- Me@Walmart.

Workers will be given a free Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone that comes pre-packaged with a case and a protection plan, all free of charge. Associates will only be able to access the app’s work features while they’re on the clock, but they can also use the smartphone as their own personal device if they want to, with all the features and privacy they’re used to.

Walmart is being careful not to rule their employees 24/7, though. Realizing that its employees have a personal life that's different from their one wearing a blue vest, company executives said the app will be loaded with ways to plan for life outside of work -- with the promise of no prying eyes. Walmart says the company will not have access to any personal or private data used in the Me@Walmart app.

Focusing on customer satisfaction

Earlier this year, Walmart stated that customer satisfaction is a priority and that it was hiring necessary workers and retooling its stores to make the shopping experience better. One of the key components of that shift is converting existing store space into part retail space and part fulfillment center space. 

As associates learn how to navigate the changing environments, Me@Walmart can help them simplify and connect the new dots quicker.

“A great customer experience starts with a great associate experience, and our people will always be a competitive advantage,” commented Walmart executive Drew Holler. “As we make enhancements for our customers, we’re also rethinking how we can help our associates succeed in their roles today and deliver some of what they’ll need for the future. The right tools can be the difference between fast and frustrating.”

Improving things for associates, retail stores, and customers

Here’s a breakdown of what Walmart associates will find on their new phone:

Scheduling: The Me@Walmart app allows associates to easily view their shifts as many as two weeks in advance, check on their upcoming paid time off, and request changes to their schedule if needed.

Mobile Clock-In: Goodbye time cards! Using geofencing technology, Walmart workers can clock in with a tap of a button once they arrive at their store.

Push-to-Talk: Remember walkie-talkies? The new app brings back that communication method. The push-to-talk feature will allow associates to instantly connect with one another so they can react collectively to customers’ needs.

Ask Sam: A voice-activated personal assistant for work, the Ask Sam feature saves time by letting associates ask the app questions to quickly locate merchandise and get answers for customers on the spot.

Getting Products on the Shelves Faster: Before the year’s out, another feature will be added to the Me@Walmart app that helps speed up the time it takes stocking associates to get items from the backroom to the sales floor. Instead of sticking with the old way of scanning each box individually to find an item, all associates have to do now is hold up their device and use an augmented reality feature to highlight the boxes that are ready to go. In testing out that feature, Walmart claims restocking will now be three times faster than it was under the manual process.

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