In real-time, the tech takes into account hundreds of variables

Walmart, a big-box retailer, is using artificial intelligence (AI), to help customers and personal shoppers. It also helps with the still-increasing online grocery demand in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Srini Venkatesan (Walmart’s vice president of global tech), wrote a blog Thursday pointing out that Americans are increasingly turning to the internet for their essentials shopping. This presented Walmart with a unique challenge.

Combining the alternate shopping method with the large number of in-store shoppers, especially in March and April.

More then 400,000 associates last July to help with the sudden “customer rush for essentials” caused by lockdowns spreading across the U.S.

Venkatesan stated that Walmart used artificial intelligence to help customers and Personal Shoppers find the best replacement for out-of-stock items.

The blog post includes an illustrated video that shows a Walmart personal shopper making a substitution for an order placed online.

Venkatesan stated that choosing the closest item to their initial choice is a complicated and personal process. There are nearly 100 factors involved in making that decision.

He also stated that making mistakes can lead to customer dissatisfaction and higher costs. Manual processes are tedious and time-consuming.

This “technology solution” uses deep learning AI to address the problem. It considers hundreds of variables, such as size, type, price, aggregate data, customer preferences, and current inventory.

Next, Venkatesan asks the customer to approve the substituted item. Venkatesan stated that this is an “important signal” that is fed back into learning algorithms for better accuracy in future recommendations.

The use of artificial intelligence (AI) is also aimed at simplifying the jobs of Walmart associates. It shows where each item is located in Walmart to reduce time spent placing orders.

Venkatesan stated that customers respond positively to Walmart’s AI updates, and the system “learns and gets smarter” from data.

“Our goal is to never run out of stock or have replacements. However, we have the technology to ensure that customers get the best product when it does happen,” he said.

According to Tech Crunch , Walmart has more than 150,000 grocery-related products.

According to Walmart’s website , around 220 million customers visit about 10,500 clubs and stores in 24 countries.

Its corporate office announced in March that it would remove the $35 minimum order requirement to Express delivery .

The company released a statement detailing the move. It stated that it has 170,000 personal shoppers trained and that Express delivery is offered in almost 3,000 stores. This service is available to nearly 70% of the U.S. populace.