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Walmart Giving Free Samsung Phones to 740,000 Employees

The phones will enable store workers to manage schedules, clock in and stay in "constant communication" with their coworkers.

Image source: Walmart

Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT) is giving half of its US employees free cell phones so they can use a new company-developed app to clock in, manage their schedules and keep in touch with co-workers.

On Thursday, the Arkansas-based retail giant said more than 740,000 workers would be offered new Samsung XCover Pro smartphones, cases and protection plans by the end of the year.  

Employees can use the phones to access the new [email protected] app, which enables them to check their work schedule, ask for changes and request time off. It also has a voice-activated assistant that helps find products and “instantly” connects workers to one another.

“The idea of this app started as a way to manage associates’ schedules and has grown into our single in-store app for US associates, saving them time and helping them be more efficient. We believe it’s the first of its kind in the retail industry,” Walmart executives Drew Holler and Kellie Romack wrote in a company blog post.

According to Walmart, the new phones can also be used as personal phones while employees are off the clock, and the company would not be able to see any personal data. The company said it would be able to view only work emails, installed work apps, web history on the phone’s work-specific browser, device specifications and clock-in locations.

After noting that most employees share company-owned handheld devices, Walmart said it ran a pilot program of the new smartphones earlier this year and received a positive response.

“Constant communication is essential for our business. Walkie talkies were one solution, but not every associate has one. Push to talk enables associates to instantly connect with one another, helping them work as a team to stay nimble and react to customers’ needs,” Holler and Romack said.

Walmart did not share financial details on how much it spent on the phones, but they are priced at $499.99 on Samsung's website. Reuters noted that big companies typically strike heavily discounted deals when buying electronics in bulk.    


Source: Equities News

The astronomer Carl Sagan said, “It was easy to predict mass car ownership but hard to predict Walmart.”