Walmart Slammed for New Shopping Features in Stores and Online
The retailer appears to have made some controversial changes recently.
While Walmart has stayed consistent offering low prices and a wide range of products over the last 60 years, the retailer has also had to adapt time and time again to stay in business. But change doesn't always go over well with consumers—especially when it comes to this major retailer. In fact, earlier in this month, people in Arizona called out the retailer for its new delivery drone service. And now, Walmart is getting slammed by shoppers again for new some of their new features both in stores and online. Read on to find out what changes are stirring up controversy among customers.
Walmart recently launched a new online shopping feature.
Walmart recently introduced a different way for shoppers to order their products online. The retailer unveiled its Text to Shop feature on Dec. 14, calling it "a new and convenient way to shop." The new tool—which is free for iOS and Android devices—connects customer phones to their Walmart account so they can do all their online shopping by sending text messages instead of going on Walmart's app or website.
"With Text to Shop, you can take care of a whole shopping trip with the time you have, anywhere you can text," Walmart explains on its website. "You can search for items, add or remove items to your Walmart cart, and schedule a pickup or delivery when you're ready to check out. Everything done through Text to Shop will show up in your Walmart app and online, too."
But now one customer is calling out issues with it.
Calling the feature "simple and convenient by design," Walmart said it worked closely with customers to create Text to Shop. But some shoppers are now saying the tool is "buggy," Tech Crunch reported. "The chat experience as it stands today does not come across as fully baked, our tests found," the tech news outlet explained. "The chatbot said confusing things and the user interface at times was difficult to navigate, despite aiming to be a simpler, text-based shopping experience."
Tech Crunch Sara Perez wrote that she ordered "a few basic items, like milk, eggs, bread, and water" for her tests on the Text to Shop feature. But even when she texted to order these products, Perez explained that the tool's bot often failed to list all the options Walmart offered and got confused when asked to remove certain items from the cart. "At this point, it felt like the process of ordering a few basic things has become an ordeal and has taken a lot longer than the traditional method of searching in Walmart's app and adding things to the cart," she wrote, adding that she ended up abandoning the cart and didn't complete her order.
Best Life reached out to Walmart to see if it has plans to fix any of these issues but has not yet heard back. When Tech Crunch asked if the feature was still under beta testing, a spokesperson for the company simply said that Walmart would "continue to refine and optimize Text to Shop to ensure we're providing the best experience possible for our customers."
Walmart has also been increasing its anti-theft features in stores.
Walmart has also been busy adding new shopping features to combat shoplifting . "Theft is an issue. It's higher than what it has historically been," CEO Doug McMillion said during a Dec. 2022 interview on CNBC's Squawk Box. On Jan. 26, Insider reported that upon visiting a Walmart store in Louisville, Kentucky, they found many items like beauty and electronics barred behind glass doors, locked in plastic boxes, and covered with spider wrap alarms.
A Walmart spokesperson previously told Best Life that it is "continually exploring effective ways to protect merchandise." But the retailer has already started turning shoppers away through its existing measures. For instance, a TikTok user named Talya recently slammed Walmart for putting mascaras worth less than $10 in locked boxes. And now other features are facing backlash from shoppers as well.
Another shoplifting feature is now being slammed.
TikTok user @karmatraine uploaded a video to the app from a Walmart in Wilkes County, North Carolina, showcasing one of the retailer's shoplifting features. In the clip, you can see a shopper opening a protective barrier over the vitamin aisle. "I'm assuming this new addition is an anti-theft device," text over the video reads.
When the barrier is first lifted, customers are greeted with an automated announcement: "Thank you for shopping at Walmart. If any assistance is needed, please contact one of our stores associates." But after that message, the device in the video played a beeping alarm sound that did not stop until the flap was closed again.
"You better know what you want before you open it," user @karmatraine wrote in the caption. Other customers replied that their stores also have this anti-theft feature and complained about the retailer's anti-theft measures. "I didn't think they would lock up vitamins," one said. Another commented, "Don't shop at Walmart."
Best Life has reached out to Walmart to get more insight on this anti-theft tool and customers concerns about it but has not yet heard back.