Walmart has announced on Thursday that almost half of its U.S employees, which amounts to 740,000 workers, will receive a free Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro smartphones, cases and protection plans.
While the phone retails at $499.99, Walmart most likely struck a discounted deal with the company, for buying such a large number of devices but even with that in mind, the total cost definitely is nothing to laugh at. Walmart refused to share any financial details, but we can safely assume it’s not pocket change.
However, Walmart will not hand out the devices out of the goodness of its heart but in order to get the employees to use an app the company has developed, which will manage shifts, clock in and help them stay in constant communication.
“The idea of this app started as a way to manage associates’ schedules and has grown into our single in-store app for U.S. associates, saving them time and helping them be more efficient.” Walmart said in a statement “We believe it’s the first of its kind in the retail industry.”
In our quest to simplify the associate experience, we’re introducing the [email protected] app, putting all associate tools in one place. And to ensure they can access those tools, we’re offering 740,000 associates free Samsung smartphones. https://t.co/cyqOGZm2t1 pic.twitter.com/UqEWzD0Zjw— Walmart Inc. (@WalmartInc) June 3, 2021
The app has been tested earlier this year to positive reviews and, while it will not be able to see personal data, it will see work emails, installed work apps, the web history on the work-specific browser, clock-in locations and device specifications.
According to Walmart, the employees will only be able to access their work apps during their shifts but can use the smartphones as personal devices in their free time.
The app also comes with a voice-activated personal assistant that can help the employees locate merchandise and answer customer questions, as well as a push-to-talk feature that allows them to communicate with colleagues.
While all this might sound a little odd at first, it’s not really surprising: Walmart, as well as other similar retailers, have been slowly moving away from retail tradition in the past couple of years.
The company has focused some of its spending power on freeing up store workers from menial tasks in order for them to have more time available to serve and interact with customers.
“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,” the company stated.