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Walmart expands employee app rollout, adds safety features

Walmart and Sam’s Club employees can now “Ask Sam” for any job-related information, including COVID-19 and emergency assistance.

Initially implemented across all Sam’s Club stores across the U.S. in June 2019, Ask Sam is a voice-responsive app that acts as a digital assistant when associates ask questions on their mobile device.

Associates can ask the app any job-related question in natural language, and have the answer displayed on their device screen in real time. For example, an employee could ask what models of vacuum cleaners are currently stocked in the store, and have links to the product information pages of each one displayed on their screen. Users can type or speak a question.

Other features of the app include store maps, price lookup, email, store sales information, printing, and birthday/anniversary recognition. Managers can also utilize the app for quick answers to questions such as when a certain employee is scheduled to work. And in the past few months, associates have also used Ask Sam to obtain information related to COVID-19, including the latest guidelines and guidance and videos. 
The app is built with machine learning capabilities, which allows it to become more sophisticated with higher levels of accuracy over time. Additionally, the store team conducts a manual review of the questions asked, looking for patterns and trends – such as recurring questions or top-searched items – to continuously update the app and adjust operations in the store.

Furthermore, Walmart created an emergency feature in Ask Sam – the emergency alert button – designed to help managers make quick decisions during high-stress situations. With the push of a button, clear and instructive emergency alerts are sent to all associates on and off the clock through multiple associate applications. Alerts can be sent for events including staying inside the facility during a lockdown, store evacuations, and “all clear” when an emergency has passed and it is safe to resume normal operations.
“We are constantly engaging associates for feedback – in fact, it’s where some of our best ideas and innovations have come from,” said Meng Chee, executive VP & chief product officer, Walmart. “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.” 

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