How Walmart Is Making In-Store Shopping Faster and Easier with a Mobile Store Assistant, and Simplifying Online Returns with Mobile Express



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Shopping trips to Walmart are getting a whole lot more convenient. A new feature to the retailer's mobile app - known as Store Assistant - introduces a suite of new tools that are revolutionizing the Walmart shopping experience, helping customers save time when visiting stores, and even allowing them to create "smart" shopping lists before leaving the house.


A Store Assistant on Your Mobile


Walmart describes its new Store Assistant feature as a "totally reimagined experience for in-store shopping". Launched this February, Store Assistant brings together all of Walmart's pre-existing in-store mobile tools - including Walmart Pay - under one roof, and introduces a host of new features besides.



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The new list-building function allows customers to assemble "smart" shopping lists ahead of a store visit. As users search for and add items to their lists while sat at home, the app automatically checks stock levels at their local Walmart, and even adds up the total cost of the basket - including sales tax - so they know exactly how much they'll have to pay at the checkout.


Upon entering a Walmart store, the app now automatically switches into Store Assistant mode, giving customers immediate access to features like a barcode scanner, a product search bar, customer reviews, and Walmart Pay. Previously, the app required users to manually switch to "In-store Mode". Walmart has removed this step to enhance the on-the-go shopping experience for busy customers - Store Assistant knows when a customer is inside a store and comes to life as soon as the app is opened, putting all of the tools needed to make shopping fast and easy right at the customer's fingertips.


Store Maps


Store Assistant also gives shoppers access to additional in-depth store information that wasn't previously available on the Walmart app. Users can now check what departments are located in a particular store - such as an Auto Care Center or Photo Center - and see opening hours and phone numbers.  


A new Store Maps feature is also part of the bundle. Currently only available in selected stores - though set to roll-out gradually to all 4,700+ U.S. locations-Store Maps help customers locate items right down to the aisle and shelf area.



These are all exciting innovations - but Walmart's Senior Vice President for Walmart Services and Digital Acceleration, Daniel Eckert, says this is just the beginning.


"There's much more to come," writes Eckert in the Walmart blog. "Imagine dropping pins on a store map tied to the location of items on your list, enabling you to plan your route through our stores, or the ability to book services like an oil change in advance. Imagine even smarter lists ... maybe so smart that you'll hardly have to make them!"


Mobile Express Returns


Store Assistant comes hot on the heels of several other updates to the Walmart app, most recently a Mobile Express Returns service, which began rolling out at the end of last year.


Designed to simplify the returns process for customers who buy merchandise from the retailer's ecommerce site, Mobile Express Returns allows users to initiate a return via the Walmart app, and then finish it at a store using a Mobile Express Lane at the customer service desk. Customers simply scan a QR code displayed on an in-store card reader with the mobile app, and then hand the item over to an associate who verifies the contents and completes the return. Refunds are credited to the customer's payment account within 24 hours.  


"This improvement to the return process combines the convenience and variety of online shopping with the ease of stopping by your local Walmart to pick up some milk," explains Walmart in a blog post. "With Mobile Express Returns, we're bringing online and in-store purchases together to offer a convenience that just makes sense. We will continue to use our app and our stores together, making shopping even faster and easier for our customers."


Final Thoughts


By introducing more and more mobile app capabilities that are useful in stores, Walmart is significantly enhancing customers' in-store experiences by making shopping trips much more efficient.


The retailer is clearly acknowledging the increasing power and prevalence of mobile, and, as Eckert asserts, will continue to upgrade its app and add new features to its ever-growing arsenal.

"We're building a shopping tool unlike any other in retail - and one that makes virtually every element of the store shopping experience faster and more convenient."


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