Leveraging a patent-pending capability
While predicting consumer behavior is possible, unforeseen events and their impact on typical purchasing patterns can create added challenges.
However, we do not always want to apply anomalies like a once-in-a-lifetime snowstorm in Florida to our future inventory management process. Instead, our software aims to display demand as closely as possible to historical consumer tendencies and adjustments.
What makes our AI/ML engines so powerful is that they can ‘forget’ such anomalies so that we are not carrying over one-time deviations into future inventory management practices. This will be the first year this capability has been used to help deliver for our customers during the holiday season.
AI is ‘always on’ and ready to distribute, supply and deliver
Whether customers are shopping in stores, online or using the app, Walmart is able to provide them with the holiday supplies they need, within their reach. Our inventory management systems connect to our 4,700 stores, fulfillment centers, distribution centers and our suppliers. Every interaction and step of the way is measured, captured and used to further train our AI models and machine learning engines.
Our AI-driven systems leverage a variety of factors to determine both quantity and timing of inventory flow, as well as more precisely identify where we distribute. With greater accuracy in our geographic distribution zones, we can understand our customers’ demands down to differentiations by zip codes. For customers enjoying at-home delivery, our systems are optimizing Spark delivery routes to save time from the moment of purchase to their front door.
With state-of-the-art learning systems, we are also adding inputs to help adjust for regional differences in needs, cultures, and buying habits. For example, we will always make sure that pool toys are available in the sunny states, and warmer sweaters are stocked in colder states. Our engines are always learning, so we can optimize, increase demand or reposition inventory to higher selling regions. For instance, if a toy isn’t selling well on the East Coast but is hot in the Midwest, we can reposition inventory or divert the demand.
Empowering our associates with industry-leading analytics
At Walmart, we are people-led and tech-powered. While our AI-driven inventory systems can offer recommendations, the associate is ultimately in charge. Nobody, and no robot, can replicate the intuition of our associates gained over their careers. Our associates’ feedback is a critical part of the tuning and training process that drives our continued innovation.
As we embrace another holiday season, our associates nationwide have been working tirelessly to deliver exceptional holiday shopping experiences. With our powerful AI-driven inventory system, customers can rely on us to deliver great experiences and savings all season long.