Walmart wants to use mobile to transform retail

LAS VEGAS--Walmart is looking to mobile technology to redefine the shopping experience for its retail customers. Speaking at the CTIA Wireless 2013 conference today, Gibu Thomas, global head of mobile at Walmart, said that the company's goal is to create mobile tools that are "indispensable for the customer when shopping in our stores."

Specifically, Thomas said that the company will leverage big data to do such tasks as develop automatic shopping lists and other advanced capabilities that will improve the shopping experience.  "Our goal is to create shopping tools that are second nature," Thomas said. "The true power of mobile is re-inventing capabilities with mass appeal." 

Walmart already has a lot of statistics about its customers and their interaction with mobile. According to Thomas, more than 50 percent of Walmart customers have smartphones and for those under the age of 35, the smartphone penetration is as high as 75 percent.  In addition, customers who have downloaded the Walmart app spend 40 percent more time at the store and make more than two trips per month.  Thomas noted that "highly engaged" app users, spend 70 percent more time at Walmart and make four or more trips to the store per month.

Of course, Walmart already has experience with wireless as one of the biggest independent retailers of mobile services. Thomas noted that the company has experienced great success selling Tracfone's Straight Talk prepaid unlimited service.

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