In a bid to thwart the threat from Amazon, retail giant Walmart has announced an initiative to share more data with suppliers in order to manage out-of stock products.
The On Shelf Customer Availability data (OSCA) is normally an internal document but Walmart has indicated that it will be available to suppliers at the Supplier Growth Forum that will be held on Tuesday at its headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
According to Steve Bratspies, the chief merchandising officer at Walmart U.S., the company has advanced in managing stock levels so that their stores do not hold unnecessarily high volumes. He added that
Amazon opened its first two pick up grocery stores upping the ante in the race to provide convenience to customers. To remain competitive Walmart is investing in grocery pick up and delivery systems as an important component of online shopping. McMillon said that more than 100 “automated pickup towers” will be deployed in stores nationwide to enable customers pick up orders placed online. Employees can also sign up to deliver orders directly to customers in a program being tested in some locations.
Walmart’s stock was down Thursday after release of the earnings report, but shares were up and rising in trading on Friday morning.
McMillon emphasized that Walmart, in its competition with Amazon, is adopting various technologies, some on experimental basis to build a digital enterprise that is responsive in a fast-paced environment. He added that they are already using machine learning to assist merchants with pricing and have initiated tests with image analytics that can scan aisles for out of stock.
Walmart’s resolve to pursue technology is apparent in its new “Scan & Go” app which looks like a manual version of Amazon Go. Users simply need a smartphone to breeze through the shopping experience. The app scans barcodes on items to be purchased and one only needs to click on a button to pay. However, shoppers who do not own smartphones are not left out. They can use hand-held scanners within the stores. On the way out of the shoppers will only need to show their digitally generated receipt to a greeter, saving precious time.
In its quest to enhance customer experience, Walmart is consolidating similarly colored items together in an effort to visually endear customers and positioning produce strategically at store entrances in a wider layout overhaul as reported by Forbes. Employees are also tipped on how to discerningly select produce for customers’ online orders to their satisfaction.
In a report by Digiday Walmart is also joining other giants in the world of advertising owing to its massive customer database envied by many.