Walmart gives 740,000 associates a free Samsung smartphone

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

    (CNN) -- Walmart is rolling out a new app for its employees and giving them a new Samsung phone to use it.

The retailer is outfitting nearly half of its US workforce, amounting to 740,000 employees, with a free phone by the end of the year for personal and professional use. The phone, a Samsung Galaxy XCover Pro, normally retails for $499 and Walmart is giving employees a case and protection plan, too.

Walmart said the primary use of the phone is for its new employee app called [email protected], which the company explained in a release is meant to "simplify daily tasks, serve our customers and plan for life outside of work."

Some of the app's features include scheduling, clocking in to their shift and a voice-activated personal assistant for work that "saves time by letting associates ask the app questions to quickly locate merchandise and get answers for customers."

Walmart claims it doesn't have access to any personal data on the phone and employees can access the app only while they're working. Prior to this program, Walmart employees had to share company-owned smartphones and the response following the initial test with personal phones was "good."

"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 said in the release.

Smartphones are the latest technological advancement for Walmart. The nation's largest retailer recently announced plans to build automated mini-warehouses in dozens of its stores to speed up customers' online delivery and curbside pickup orders.

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