More than 740,000 Walmart associates across the country will get a new Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphone for use at work and at home by the end of the year, the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer said June 3.
A day after Walmart shareholders voted down a proposal to create a pandemic committee led by employees—endorsed during the company's annual meeting by civil rights activist Rev. Dr. William Barber II, who also called for Walmart to boost its starting wage to $15 an hour—Walmart announced the free-phones plan in conjunction with the launch of the Me@Walmart app.
Walmart is "rethinking how we can help our associates succeed in their roles today and deliver some of what they’ll need for the future," U.S. SVP of People Operations Drew Holler and VP of Product and Associate Experience Kellie Romack stated in a post on the retailer's website. The Me@Walmart app, which U.S. associates can use with whatever smartphone they bring to work, bolsters communication capabilities on the store floor via push-to-talk technology, according to the retailer. It also offers a voice-activated personal assistant, Ask Sam, that's designed to help employees locate merchandise, answer customer questions and view store metrics. Associates can use Me@Walmart to view their schedules, manage time-off requests and clock in as soon as they arrive on-site, as well.
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"The right tools can be the difference between fast and frustrating," Holler and Romack stated. "As retail continues to evolve—and quickly—it’s more critical than ever to equip our people with the tools and technology they need for success."
In the coming months, Walmart added, the app will incorporate an augmented-reality feature that lets stocking associates quickly identify product that is ready to move from the backroom to the sales floor. The "patent-pending capability," according to Walmart, cuts the time for that process by two-thirds.