Walmart's new tool makes shopping easier

Superstore Walmart has recently released a new app for their store associates to make assisting customers faster and easier than ever. Originally developed for Sam's Club in 2019 according to USA Today, the app is now being implemented in 5,000 Walmart locations across the United States. The voice assistant app, named "Ask Sam," allows employees to pull up store maps, look up prices and products, and receive real-time emergency alerts. Meng Chee, Walmart's executive vice president and chief product officer, said in a statement that "Ask Sam" was created to "help associates find the answers they need to do their jobs more effectively and better serve customers." This means Walmart employees will no longer have to search aisles for products or memorize changes to store layouts, which will allow them to quickly answer questions and cut down on interaction times — which gets you in and out of stores more quickly.

While the "Ask Sam" app is only available for Walmart employees to use, the company does have an already existing app specifically designed for customers that gives users the ability to scan items for prices and access store maps by themselves.

Walmart is prioritizing employee well-being in 2020

Walmart has also started to use the "Ask Sam" app to share coronavirus-related information with its employees, helping to keep them safe and informed while working. Chee states, "The safety and well-being of our associates and customers is our number one priority. The Emergency Alert Button is one of the many steps we've taken to enhance our safety measures." In the future, this alert system can also be used to notify employees of any dangerous situations happening inside Walmart stores or in the surrounding area.

The implementation of the "Ask Sam" app came just one week after Walmart made headlines for announcing they are planning to close for Thanksgiving 2020, allowing associates to spend the holiday with family. This is the first year Walmart has opted to close for the day since the late 1980s. Business Insider reports that this marks a serious departure for the chain, who traditionally begin their Black Friday deals before competitors on the evening of Thanksgiving Day itself. 

John Furner, the president and CEO of Walmart U.S., released a statement saying that the company knows "... this has been a trying year, and our associates have stepped up. We hope they will enjoy a special Thanksgiving Day at home with their loved ones. We are certainly thankful to our people for all of their efforts." Furner said that this family-focused decision was originally put forth by Walmart employee Kevin Carlyle, a supervisor at one of the company's Texas locations.