Walmart has said that it would be giving a smartphone to half of its workforce in the United States by the end of the year. According to the retail giant, it will give Samsung smartphones to around 740,000 workers. The phone will be for both professional and personal use. Employees would get the Galaxy XCover Pro model of Samsung and it costs around USD 499, as per Samsung Electronics Co Ltd’s website. However, Walmart has not disclosed financial details. Apart from the phone, the employees would also get cases and protection plans. The company is planning to give the smartphone primarily because it has developed a new app. The app called Me@Walmart has been developed to ‘simplify daily tasks.’
Walmart said that the app will allow its workers a variety of tasks. Some of the features of the app are that it will allow employees to digitally clock in for work, scheduling their shift, help locate merchandise, replying to queries of customers, and moreover a push-to-talk feature that makes direct communication with colleagues very convenient. “Walkie talkies were one solution but it was not feasible for every associate to have it.” According to a release issued by the company, the app also is meant to ‘plan for life outside of work.’ “There is a personal voice assistant that saves time as it allows associates to ask questions and get answers for customers,” Walmart said in the release. Walmart has also clarified that it would not have access to any personal data of employees using the smartphone. It also said that employees would have access to the app only when they are working. But they can use the smartphone as a personal device even after shift hours.
“We will not be able to see personal data of employees. The only things that we will have access to are work emails, work-specific browser, clock-in locations and other work-related information.” Prior to the program, the employees had to use smartphones owned by the company among themselves. However, the response during the initial test with personal phones was quite satisfactory. The announcement comes as more and more retail outlets are trying to reduce the burden of menial tasks from store workers so that they can serve customers in a better way. The nation’s largest retailer has been working towards equipping its employees with all the required tools and technology. Walmart recently announced its plan to build automated mini-warehouses at several store locations.