Walmart India team playing key role in innovation: CEO Doug McMillon
Walmart’s global tech team in India is playing a key role in developing many innovations for the world’s largest retailer. These range from automating warehouse management, store modernisation to improving customer experiences.
One of the innovations built by Walmart’s global tech team in India is ‘Element’, an intelligent and collaborative platform.
It will democratise access to all of the artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning initiatives within Walmart, said Doug McMillon, chief executive officer (CEO) and president of Walmart Inc. McMillon was speaking at the Converge@Walmart, a retail tech event by Walmart Global Tech held here on Friday.
“It is invisible to our customers but works 24/7 to help improve the experience,” said McMillon on a video link. “It is giving our engineers access to problem-solving tools,” he added.
McMillon said this platform lets Walmart team optimise aisle assortment, reduce customer wait-times and solve many other problems for the business.
“It makes our customers’ and associates’ lives easier. It’s helping us move fast, and with a purpose,” said McMillon.
McMillon said the pandemic, disruptions to the supply chain and inflation have affected the way every business operates around the world.
He added that they’ve changed the way people spend and save and their perception of value as well as how they travel, communicate, and work.
“These challenges have also opened up a window of opportunity for us to be more empathetic and more agile. And, to reimagine how we can serve our customers and their families better,” said McMillon.
He said, “We have a simple but powerful purpose at Walmart, to help people save money and live better. And, we bring that purpose to life every day for about 230 million customers and members every week around the world.”
McMillon said one of the keys to delivering on that purpose is to build and deploy technology across businesses.
“Our tech teams play an important role in creating the experiences and capabilities. They allow our customers and members to interact with us and access the things they need,” he said.
Judith McKenna, president and CEO of Walmart International, said technology is a critical part of how Walmart can provide a seamless customer experience. She said the firm is counting on the technology team and partners to deliver value.
The firm’s strategy is to build strong local businesses powered by Walmart. She said this means how the firm can bring Walmart’s global resources and learnings together from across the portfolio to strengthen global capabilities and create opportunities.
For instance, McKenna said in India, Walmart is investing in e-commerce firm Flipkart and digital payments company PhonePe. These are scaling up to help Indian consumers and businesses take advantage of the digital economy.
“We are also creating new opportunities for Indian companies to grow as part of our global supply chains — by expanding our Made-in-India exports commitment to $10 billion each year by 2027,” said McKenna.
“With Walmart Global Tech, we’re building on what we’ve learned here in India — creating opportunities and access for customers and businesses that they never had before,” said McKenna.
McKenna said India has a unique role to play in the global economy — with its deep pool of talent, proven ability to leapfrog existing digital technologies and extensive manufacturing expertise.
“Whether it is Indian companies selling on the US marketplace, the technology to take exports from India to the world through Walmart Sourcing, or building financial services that customers need in markets like Mexico, Canada or Chile — we are reimagining retail while supporting customers, associates and suppliers big and small across the globe,” said McKenna.
Suresh Kumar, Global chief technology officer and chief development officer, Walmart Inc., said retailers are reimagining everything from supply chain and retail operations to customer and associate experiences.
He said technologists across India are driving this transformation, both at home and in markets around the world.
Kumar said Walmart is applying data science in new, smart and appropriate ways to make faster decisions. It is using AI, voice and edge computing to help store associates serve customers in impactful ways. Its cybersecurity team is enhancing safeguards to better protect customers and earn their trust.
“We are running a tech stack that includes one of the largest hybrid clouds in existence,” said Kumar. “Our teams in Bengaluru, Chennai and Gurugram are at the heart of this innovative work,” he added.
Hari Vasudev, senior vice-president of retail tech platforms, and country head, Walmart Global Tech in India, said Walmart’s global tech team of product managers, engineers, designers and data scientists in India are committed towards creating limitless retail possibilities for Walmart.
“What we do as a tech team creates an epic impact at every touch point of Walmart’s retail value chain,” said Vasudev.