Here’s How AI Might Help You Get Better Deals At WalmartThe retail giant is taking humans out of the negotiation process. Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images
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Artificial intelligence has sparked public debate over whether it will be a positive or negative influence on society. For now, however, we’re in that phase where people and businesses are testing AI out to see what it can do.
And as inflation continues to take its toll on personal budgets and corporate profits, Walmart is hoping that it can use the latest tech to secure the lowest prices for itself and its customers.
The art of the deal
As Walmart Senior VP for International Operations Darren Carithers explained, the retail giant has started using a specially designed chatbot to take over negotiations with vendors.
“We set the requirements and then, at the end, it tells us the outcome,” he said.
The strategy appears to be paying off already, though it’s worth noting that Walmart hasn’t started using the chatbot to negotiate deals on the items you’ll find on the aisles. Instead, the company is using it to get the best prices on equipment that stays in the stores — like shopping carts.
Nevertheless, AI has been able to reach a deal in more than two-thirds of the negotiations for which it’s been used and it’s resulted in savings of about 3%.
Replacing human jobs
While it’s arguably a good thing for companies like Walmart to get the best deals on merchandise and supplies (assuming they pass on the savings to customers), these negotiations were previously handled by human beings whose jobs are now in jeopardy.
Amazon is also starting to automate negotiations, though Target hasn’t adopted such a policy … yet.
Dutch researcher Tim Baarslag seems to think the trade-off is worth it, explaining: “The huge potential is that any kind of company can soon use AI for a problem that normally requires an entire procurement team to handle.”