Walmart Starts Testing Chatbot Shopping by Text
Walmart is working on a new feature that would enable shoppers to text their shopping lists to the store through a chatbot. The project, part of Walmart’s Store No. 8 research and development group, ties into the company’s ongoing plans for conversational commerce by voice and text.
Shopping List Text
Walmart’s Text to Shop feature is designed to connect to existing Walmart accounts. Once set up, users can text with the AI to find items, add and edit items in the cart, and schedule a delivery or checkout. The choices and transactions are visible on the Walmart app and website as they’re made to avoid any confusion or multiple orders. The AI understands natural language questions as well, so users can inquire about items that Walmart may carry or help identify something the user might not remember the precise name for at the moment. The tool is also personalized to the shopper, using details of previous purchases and searches to help them pick out the products they want more quickly and without getting bogged down in an overwhelming list of options.
“We’re learning a lot about when and how customers prefer a conversational experience, and we look forward to making this more widely available in the future,” Walmart’s Store Nº8 conversational commerce vice president Dominique Essig explained in a blog post. “By understanding our customers’ preferences, we also solve the paradox of choice and save them time by serving up what we know they love best. Most importantly, we offer Walmart customers the opportunity to shop no matter where they are, and to communicate naturally by simply asking for what they want, any way they want.”
Essig is outspoken in seeing the value of conversational commerce both in text and voice forms. She pointed out how conversational AI can save people time, is more accessible in more places, and streamlines shopping, all to the benefit of the shopper. As Walmart, as well as subsidiaries like Flipkart, continue their development of AI shopping assistants, it will likely become a common option for all sorts of shopping.
Former Walmart e-commerce chief Marc Lore has even begun a new conversational commerce technology startup called Wizard Commerce, which recently raised $50 million. Like Text to Shop, Wizard is going for a text-based commerce experience. In this case, based on the shopping platform Stylus, which was technically acquired by Wizard, although it’s primarily the same staff and leadership. Wizard has yet to roll out its product, however, and Walmart has obviously decided to push ahead with its own angle on text shopping.
“This type of innovative customer experience is exactly what we build every day. And while Walmart has offered voice shopping for years, text shopping is just getting warmed up,” Essig wrote. “Our hope is that conversational commerce can help ease the stress of the never-ending to-do list.”