In more than 430 of Walmart’s smaller format Neighborhood Market stores, the company is shifting overnight stocking hour shifts to the daytime and using tech to smooth out inventory management, the company said in a recent blog post.
Customers and employees alike responded well to the change during a pilot of the “day-stocking” in 50 stores in the Tampa, FL and Dallas areas, according to Walmart. Employees affected by the change are being offered, as available, day shifts, overnight shifts at nearby supercenters or distribution centers or 60 days of severance pay in cases where they can’t find a suitable replacement shift.
Walmart touted the workers' opportunity to be around when customers are, in order to improve customer service. But several Walmart employees complained to Buzzfeed about the change, saying that stocking and cleaning is more difficult when customers are around and that they worried about loss of pay.
Walmart is engaging a multi-faceted overhaul affecting its business operations, from its headquarters and into its stores. The retail giant, along with a beefed up e-commerce push led by U.S. e-commerce chief Marc Lore (founder of Amazon challenger Jet.com), last year slashed 7,000 back office jobs, another 1,000 corporate jobs and shook up its leadership ranks to better align its brick-and-mortar and digital operations.
This month, the company said it's centralizing its management structure, a cost-cutting move that Howard Davidowitz, chairman of New York City-based retail consulting and investment banking firm Davidowitz & Associates, told Retail Dive could be a signal that Wall Street shouldn't worry about its ability to wage the emerging price wars in grocery and mass merchandise retail.
“This is a very complex situation. They say it’s going to be more efficient, more centralized, but in the end will they be close to the consumer? Will they have enough management?” Davidowitz said.
The company is also embarking on a redesign of its corporate headquarters in Bentonville, AR to house headquarters employees now spread around Northwest Arkansas, which CEO Doug McMillon said will be a more coherent campus with “accommodations for a more digitally native workforce and space that encourages greater collaboration and speed.”
It’s a big change for the company that for half a century has staked its business success on the appeal of low prices, protecting its margins by playing hardball with vendors and paying employees among the lowest wages in retail. While Walmart appears to be only stiffening its resolve when it comes to suppliers, it has spent a billion dollars boosting wages and revamping its training and management tracks.
The company is getting a lot of attention for its drive to boost e-commerce sales, mostly through a series of acquisitions that began with its $3.3 billion purchase of Jet last year. But it has also spent millions on store improvements, including stations and personnel to help with in-store order pickup but also other customer-facing improvements. The shift to day work in its Neighborhood Market convenience stores is part of that effort, according to the company’s post.
“The needs of our customers and associates are rapidly changing and it’s important that we adapt and evolve with them,” Todd Harbaugh, Walmart U.S.’s EVP of Neighborhood Markets, said in the post. “[W]ith this change, we’re adding availability and creating opportunities for associates to work more sought-after daytime shifts.”