Walmart launches internal generative AI testing tool

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
Dan Berthiaume profile picture
finger touching cloud
Walmart is internally testing generative AI.

Walmart is letting its employee experiment with generative artificial intelligence (AI).

The discount giant is rolling out the Walmart GenAI Playground, an early-stage internal generative AI tool where employees  can explore and learn about the new technology. Generative AI, which is based on machine learning (ML), can create new content and ideas, including conversations, stories, images, videos and music.

Cheryl Ainoa, executive VP, new businesses and emerging technology at Walmart Global Tech, announced Walmart GenAI Playground in a LinkedIn post.

A key benefit of the playground is that there will be various GenAI models available to try out all in one place... enabling our associates to see the difference in how each model reacts to the same prompts,” Ainoa said in the post. It’s just the latest example of how we’re moving fast to bring this disruptive technology into and across Walmart.”

In the post, Ainoa also said the Walmart GenAI Playground will enable Walmart associates to explore generative AI’s capabilities without risk of data leakage and exposure, while using more realistic prompts for their job function and having one place to compare and test different models.

The tool is primarily for experimentation, and Ainoa said in the post that its results have not been validated as accurate and should be validated before being internally shared or used to help make business decisions.

Walmart leverages AI across the enterprise

While Walmart is still developing its generative AI capabilities, the retailer has been actively integrating AI into its enterprise. At the kickoff of its recent two-day 2023 Investment Community meeting, Walmart unveiled a plan for what the discount titan says is “a new more connected and automated supply chain which will improve the experience for customers and associates and simultaneously increase productivity.” Over half of Walmart’s fulfillment centers could be automated within three years. The retailer expects the outcome to improve in-stock levels, inventory accuracy and flow across all fulfillment channels.

Walmart also utilizes applied AI to identify when an item purchased online can be fulfilled from one of its 4,700 stores instead of fulfillment centers. This step is intended to reduce both the number of miles driven and the number of boxes used for shipping.

To ensure that items can more sustainably travel from stores to customers’ homes, the retailer combines multiple orders on single delivery routes and delivers them using electric vans.

Other examples include the retailer utilizing advanced AI capability and employee expertise to streamline digital product discovery for Spanish-speaking customers.