Super shoppers across America know that planning is important for any successful Black Friday trip. Luckily, at Walmart, there’s a quick and easy way to find the items you’re looking for: the store maps feature in the Walmart app.
Launched in November 2018, store maps, which allow customers to search for an item and find the correct aisle location, are among the most popular features in the Walmart app. Paul Kilsch, one of the Walmart associates who supports this feature, believes this is because the functionality serves its true purpose – helping customers save time by finding what they need quickly.
But what happens on Black Friday, when a Walmart store transforms into a slightly different layout? Good news – the convenience customers have come to expect adjusts to help them out.
Many of the high-demand product locations have been available on the map since the ad released, and all advertised items are planned to be marked via color-coded maps in the app the night of the event. Customers can even access the Black Friday maps at home before they go to the store, by either simply typing “Black Friday map” in the app’s search bar or by going to “Store Finder,” setting “Your Store,” and scrolling down to “Map Your Deals” under the Weekly Ad. It’s even easier if you’re in a store during the Black Friday event, as the app will transform to show the “Map Your Deals” button right on the front page of the app.
Kilsch hopes that customers enjoy the experience the Black Friday maps provide, but his real hope is that customers see the convenience of using store maps year-round.
“In the map, we don’t just show items. We also show other major points of interest within the store, including Customer Service, Pickup, Pharmacy, and even the restrooms,” Kilsch said.
This time of year, customers travel more often than usual, and the everyday maps feature is poised to help with those last-minute trips for oft-forgotten essentials. Customers can search for the specific product they are looking for (such as toothpaste), or they can locate a department (Personal Care) by looking at the map and pinching/zooming in for additional detail.
“Customers may not be as familiar with the store they’re in, especially when traveling, so they can use our app to help them find the things they need.”
The success of store maps, Kilsch says, is how the digital and physical work together to aid both our customers and associates.
In 2018, Kilsch’s cross-functional team worked with all 4,700+ Walmart stores to complete an enormous update of aisle locations. Then, store associates at each store installed yellow navigation signs at the end of each aisle to set the stage for the store maps feature to launch.
The end result is that customers today simply search for an item, and the app magically drops a pin showing its location in store. Then, the yellow signs inside the store let customers know precisely where to look.
This may seem pretty straightforward, but each store has a different layout that contains around 100,000 items. Multiply those items by the number of Walmart stores and differing store layouts, and the task becomes a sizable challenge to both launch and maintain.
Store teams have to set products in the correct place and maintain their aisle signing. Real estate layout teams have to maintain and update versions of store floorplans. And app designers and developers have to put all that together in a map that customers can use on both iOS and Android.
Just because it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas doesn’t mean customers have to spend a lot of time looking for the things they need. Thanks to Kilsch and a host of his colleagues, customers can save time with the store maps in the Walmart app every day of the year.