Walmart giving 740,000 associates free smartphones
The phone's current retail price is $499.99.
Walmart is giving more than 740,000 of its associates a new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone, case and protection plan free of charge. The phone's current retail price is $499.99.
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The offer comes as the retailer is launching Me@Walmart — a new app built by Walmart Global Tech in order to help employees simplify daily tasks, better serve customers and plan for life outside of work.
"The idea of this app started as a way to manage associates’ schedules and has grown into our single in-store app for U.S. associates, saving them time and helping them be more efficient," Drew Holler, Walmart U.S. senior vice president of people operations, and Kellie Romack, vice president or product and associate experience, said in a blog post. "We believe it’s the first of its kind in the retail industry."
Walmart associates have previously shared handheld devices. After an initial test with the new smartphone earlier this year, Walmart said it was expanding its testing following a positive employee response and that it would continue to evaluate the new technology.
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The app will allow employees to view their work schedules up to two weeks in advance, check their paid time off and request schedule changes. The smartphone will also allow associates to clock in for work with the push of a button and can be used as a walkie-talkie to stay in communication with one another and help serve customers.
In addition, the smartphone comes equipped with a voice-activated personal assistant, Ask Sam, in order to help employees quickly locate merchandise and get answers for customers.
In the coming months, the Me@Walmart app will also roll out a feature that will speed up the time it takes for employees to bring items from the backroom onto the sales floor.
"Instead of scanning each box individually, associates just hold up their device and, using augmented reality, highlight the boxes that are ready to go," Holler and Romack said.
Since piloting the scanning feature last year, Walmart says the new capability has taken a third of the time compared to the previous manual process.
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According to Walmart, associates will only be able to access the app's work features while on the clock.
"As retail continues to evolve — and quickly — it’s more critical than ever to equip our people with the tools and technology they need for success," Holler and Romack added. "Doing so makes work easier and more enjoyable, and it keeps the focus where we need it most — delivering a great in-store, pickup and delivery experience for our customers."
Employees can also use the smartphone as their own personal device. Walmart emphasized it will not have access to any employee's personal data on the smartphones.
The new phones are the latest technology being implemented in Walmart stores to increase efficiency. Earlier this year, Walmart said it would add small robot-staffed warehouses to dozens of its stores to help employees fill orders for pickup and delivery as online shopping surged due to the COVID-19 pandemic.