Community

A Patriotic Tradition Ignites a Charge of Support

Family, friends, BBQ, parades, Old Glory flying and fireworks. These bring up different Fourth of July memories for each of us.

For me, I can add a few other memories to this list ─ a waterless pool party in Northern Iraq, the dilemma of fireworks and the Alaskan midnight sun, and more recently, a moment at the Riverbend Campground near Hiawassee, Georgia.

I look forward to Fourth of July gatherings because of the unique traditions that have evolved over the years. I’ve spent July 4 in different countries and states, with family and friends from across the globe. The common theme across them all has always been celebrating our freedom with the ones we love.

But there’s a whole other family for people who’ve served in the military. When we take our vows to protect and defend our nation, every person we serve with, anyone who has ever served, or friends and family of people who’ve served ─ whether we know them or not ─ instantly becomes a family member. For many of us, this is at the core of why we serve, or what we miss from our time in uniform. Each of us brings that into our own Fourth of July traditions, and for me, 2017 was no different.

Back to the Riverbend Campground I mentioned earlier. For the past few Independence Days, my family and friends have gathered there on Lake Chatuge in the North Georgia mountains. Just like years past, this July 4 started with a sunrise 7-mile run carrying my American flag from my parents’ house into the town of Hiawassee. As always, I was greeted by honks and waves from just about every motorist who passed me.

After a hearty breakfast, many of my relatives and neighbors rallied behind my father, a 20-year U.S. Air Force veteran, for a 4-mile walk up and down country roads carrying Old Glory. The celebration continued after lunch with a 1-mile flag stroll with my wife and our twin daughters.

Then came the highlight of the day, when all of us hiked about a half mile in the dark to the edge of the Riverbend Campground to watch one of the best fireworks shows I’ve ever seen. There were no fancy LED lights or laser shows. There wasn’t even a band. It was a simple, but spectacular celebration of America that played out in the dark sky for a few hundred people to see.

This tradition has become something so important to me that, as the development project manager for Team Red, White and Blue (RWB), I’m able to pass on part of my tradition to others. Team RWB’s mission is to enrich the lives of America’s veterans through physical and social activities within their communities. The passion to get up and get moving is how the Eagle Charge was born. It’s a virtual race, sponsored by Walmart, that challenges participants to move 7 or 4 miles to celebrate our nation’s Independence Day.

There are still Eagle Charge runs going on around the country through July 8, so you can still find a race in your area . Show your support for the men and women who have and are still serving in the military. Get up. Get moving. Show your appreciation however you can.

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Business

Why Smarter Inventory Means Better Customer Service

When you’re getting ready to head to Walmart, you expect everything on your list will be ready and waiting on our shelves.

With millions of items for sale, ensuring that happens – for everything, every time – is quite a complex process behind the scenes.

Managing back room inventory – products that are stored in back rooms for days, sometimes weeks, before they reach shelves – can be a challenge. It requires constant monitoring, and can sometimes take associates away from the sales floor where they would otherwise be helping customers. So recently we’ve been experimenting with new and better ways to improve the process for everyone.

Top Stock is one of these new systems that we’re testing in stores. With it, we’ve moved a great deal of our back stock inventory to somewhere else very simple: the top shelves on our sales floor. By keeping additional merchandise closer to where it’s sold, we can maintain fuller shelves while keeping a better in-the-moment read on inventory.

I spent the first 12 years of my three decades with Walmart in replenishment and supply chain roles, so I understand the significance firsthand of how this makes storage and stocking so much easier. But there’s also quite a bit more that directly benefits customers:

  • All the extra space we’re opening up in our back rooms is making it easier for us to integrate services like online grocery pickup. While the demand for grocery pickup is obvious, finding adequate space within our existing stores had sometimes been a challenge.
  • Need something you don’t immediately see on the shelf? Waiting for an associate to check our back room during peak holiday shopping periods could soon be a thing of the past. By improving our inventory management processes, we’re bringing the products and services that customers need one step closer. In fact, the implementation of Top Stock has helped reduce our rental of temporary inventory trailers to a small fraction of what it was just a few years ago.
  • Our improvements in inventory management are getting more associates out of the back room and onto the sales floor, where they can help and interact with customers.
  • Perhaps best of all, our associates can use open back room space for career-building education. When one store in Morrisville, North Carolina, implemented Top Stock inventory management, they reduced back room inventory by 75% in two months, allowing enough new space to open an Academy for associate training.

What’s worked for our business in the past isn’t always what’s best for today’s shopper. When we commit to coming up with unexpected ways to do the small things better, we not only become smarter and more efficient, but create a big win for our customers at the same time.

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Community

Why This Associate Wants You to Start With #HelloMyNameIs

“Hello, my name is….” It’s a phrase made up of only four words.

It takes very little time to say – it’s an easy way to begin a conversation. Yet, when people say these words, they can have such a big impact.

My late wife, Kate, started the #HelloMyNameIs campaign in 2013 while living with terminal cancer. As a medic herself, she had become frustrated with nurses and doctors who never introduced themselves to her before providing medical care.

Kate had already been speaking to hospitals and conferences about her experience as both a medical provider and a patient, but through the campaign she hoped to share some key values that resonate beyond people working in healthcare: communication, small acts of kindness, putting the patient at the center of every decision and seeing each person as an individual.

Kate was one of the most determined, resilient people I have ever known. I firmly believe that through adversity, comes legacy. July 23 is International “Hello My Name Is” Day – both the anniversary of Kate’s passing and what would have been our 12th wedding anniversary. We invite everyone – from people to corporations – to join us in celebrating Kate’s legacy by introducing yourself and using #HelloMyNameIs.

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Innovation

Uncovering How We’ll Shop in the Future

As new technology brings new possibilities, there’s been an explosion of ways to shop – smartphone apps, online grocery shopping and Scan & Go for easier checkout, to name just a few. To serve customers better, we need to stay ahead of the research that helps form the ideas that will continue to revolutionize how we shop.

I’m part of a small team that’s delving deep into research to improve the shopping experience for everyone. I’m a data scientist for Sam’s Club Technology, and I like to compare what we do to building a car: You have to start with the engine.

My day-to-day work is all about staying on top of new methods to build that engine. I look at ways we can incorporate emerging research in object recognition, detection and segmentation – technology that can make things like our Scan & Go app even smarter. For instance, instead of scanning a bar code, the app will be able to recognize products using photos taken by your phone’s camera.

Because this is such a fast-moving field, the research I work with is in its earliest stages. I might work with one algorithm today, and a couple months from now use a completely new model that’s even better than what we had before.

Tech is constantly evolving, which makes innovation essential for retailers. We have to continually adapt our business to our shoppers’ lifestyles. There’s a lot of coding, engineering and algorithm testing that goes into building something that works better than what people are used to. It’s challenging, but that’s why I’m lucky to work with such talented people.

Until I joined the team last year, I never realized the strong sense of pride that associates in the Walmart and Sam’s Club family have in what our business does. After studying at Yale, I worked in financial engineering in New York – I didn’t expect to find an opportunity to do such innovative work in Bentonville, Arkansas.

I’ve found that in the corporate world, it’s rare for a business to invest in cutting-edge research. But, from the start, Walmart has chosen to invent some of our own solutions instead of waiting for someone else to come up with them. In this new age of tech, we’re still evolving and inventing better ways to get from Point A to Point C.

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Innovation

5 Ways Walmart Uses Big Data to Help Customers

In many industries, big data provides a way for companies to gain a better understanding of their customers and make better business decisions.

Walmart relies on big data to get a real-time view of the workflow in the pharmacy, distribution centers and throughout our stores and e-commerce.

Check out the infographic below to see how Walmart uses big data to make the company’s operations more efficient and improve the lives of customers.

Whether it’s analyzing the transportation route for a supply chain or using data to optimize pricing, big data analytics will continue to be a key way for Walmart to enhance the customer experience.

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