Will Walmart’s bring your own device policy work for it and its associates?
Walmart has rolled out a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) program that loads its suite of custom-built apps on associate’s smartphones to help them do their jobs on selling floors. Associates also receive a discount on their monthly phone bills.
In a blog entry, Brock McKeel, senior director of digital operations, said sales associates will continue to have access to Walmart’s digital network by checking out a handheld device at the back of the store. An additional “tens of thousands” of more such devices will be added to stores in coming months.
But enabling access to Walmart’s work apps through associates’ smartphones enables them to log in as soon as their shift begins.
Spencer Schmidt, a sales floor associate at a supercenter in Arkansas where the technology was tested, said as part of the blog entry, “BYOD basically works just like our store devices – I can pop it open when a customer needs help, look up items and find where they are in the store. But with my phone, the apps are always on me. As soon as I clock in, I can see what notes have been assigned to me and start working on them right away.”
With trust cited as an issue, Walmart noted that the retailer will not be able to see personal e-mails, data, photos/videos, voicemail (corporate or personal), text, web activity, list of apps or device location. Viewable information includes battery level, make and model of the device, operating system version, corporate email and data, storage usage, carrier and phone number.
Walmart’s range of apps enables associates to stay up-to-date on company and store announcements and better manage out-of-stocks, deliveries, pricing changes and returns. The apps also feature a variety of performance indicators.
A U.K. study last year by Fujitsu found many retail associates prefer using their smartphones as work tools because they are quicker and provide broader web access than outdated store-provided devices. For retailers, pros of allowing BYOD included being able to better recruit younger consumers accustomed to their always-on smartphone and potential cost savings. Cons were seen as privacy and security threats.
- How Smartphones are Enabling a Smarter Way of Working in Stores – Walmart
- Walmart’s Custom Apps are Enabling a Workplace Refresh – Walmart
- Are the Days of BYOD Over? Exploring the Value of Employer Provided Phones in the Next Mobile Economy – Samsung/Business Wire
- Should store associates be allowed to use their personal devices? – RetailWire
DISCUSSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see benefits for store associates and Walmart from the retailer’s BYOD program? What concerns, if any, do you have about the program?