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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

Found: The Story Behind Our New Natural Beauty Routine

If you’ve ever tried shopping for naturally-inspired beauty products, you know the struggle.

They can be expensive. They’re sometimes not as effective. Makeup colors can be limited, and guess what? That means matching skin tones is a challenge.

As a buyer for cosmetics at Walmart, I’d begun noticing an industry trend, both from our customers’ feedback and focus groups: People care more than ever about the ingredients in the products they’re using. But this was also personal. I’m passionate about using natural ingredients in my home, and I was having trouble finding beauty products that looked good, felt good, and wouldn’t break the bank.

That was last year. Little did I know that a solution was soon to be found.

My team started looking into what it would take to develop naturally-inspired skincare and cosmetics, and that’s when we discovered Hatchbeauty, a company specializing in everything from the development to the marketing of innovative beauty products. They were eager to marry their beauty expertise with our retail expertise to create something truly unique and different – Found, a new line of naturally-inspired beauty products exclusive to Walmart.

Every item within Found highlights a “miracle” ingredient used in ancient beauty rituals. For instance, one of my favorite products, the illuminating drops, uses passionfruit oil to lock in moisture and nourish your skin. We’ve brought these ingredients to life to give customers an alternative featuring natural ingredients that can deliver the same results as traditional, high-end beauty products.

Helping develop Found has been one of the most meaningful achievements in my career, because it has been an intersection where my personal passion and my professional purpose collide. Walmart is committed to selling more products that benefit people and the planet. Found’s 130-product line is never tested on animals, and there’s even a Not Found list featuring what you won’t find in the products, like parabens and phthalates. Every product is 90-99% natural, and the percent of natural ingredients is front and center on every product.

Working with Tracy Holland, founder and CEO, Diana Madrid, COO, and Ben Bennet CCO, was a phenomenal experience, but I was impressed with the engagement from everyone on their team. From the owners to the brand managers to the chemists and product developers, everyone encouraged diversity of thought and inclusion, which made it possible for the customer to be the focus of our development process. I can’t count the number of times we changed direction on formulas, shade range or packaging based on customer feedback. For instance, we received customer feedback that skincare can be a confusing category to shop, so we broke down every item into one of three steps: cleanse, treat and hydrate. Found demystifies the process and helps customers focus on key items to build their regimens.

When I gave my first presentation to our leadership team, I asked them how my makeup looked, and they couldn’t believe everything I was wearing was from our naturally-inspired line. It’s one thing to develop these products – but it’s another thing entirely to actually wear the products and love them! Found has truly been a chance for me to help our customers save money and live better.

You can find Found products at select Walmart locations, Walmart.com and coming soon to Jet.com.

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How Walmart is Supporting Associates Impacted by Hurricane Irma

Hurricane Irma hit the Walmart family hard.

For Cassie Bell and the associate support team in Walmart’s Emergency Operations Center, the priority this weekend and in the days to come is making sure associates are safe and that their immediate needs are being met.

Continuing an effort that began in the wake of Hurricane Harvey last month, Walmart has mobilized its Associate Resource Call Center to check in on associates in impacted areas, help get them to safety and give them the support information they need. To date, volunteers at the call center have conducted more than 5,200 calls and spoken with thousands of associates on the ground in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina.

“Communication is critical during these events,” said Bell, Sr. Human Resources Manager. “We’re staying in contact with our store and club management teams, distribution centers and call centers, reminding them of emergency procedures and what to do during and after the storm.”

Walmart has mobilized a special call center focused on associate needs. Above, volunteers take calls from associates in hurricane affected areas.

But associate support doesn’t end with communication. Bell outlined a number of additional measures Walmart is taking to help associates who live and work in Irma’s path:

  • Walmart is offering Disaster Displacement Assistance (DDA), a grant that helps pay personal, family and living expenses resulting from a disaster. DDA helps get associates and their families out of harm’s way before the storm hits. It also helps them get back home once they are allowed to return.
  • Associates whose stores are forced to close outside their normal operating schedule due to the disaster or mandatory evacuation ordered by a governmental authority are eligible for up to four days of disaster support pay.
  • Using new technology the company recently implemented in its compensation department, Walmart is providing near-instant access to earned wages as an extra effort of relief. This program allows eligible associates to receive earned pay prior to their actual payday, giving them additional resources as they prepare for, and recover from, the storm.
  • Walmart is setting up support centers inside Training Academy facilities near impacted areas, providing hot meals to families and proactively calling associates to conduct wellness checks.
  • Associates wanting to work in other facilities are able to find openings by reaching out to their Human Resources Manager. Post-storm, Walmart will be identifying additional opportunities for associates to work in another store if theirs is closed due to the storm.

To help ease the minds of impacted associates who are worried about how they’re going to get back to work, Bell said absences for eligible associates have been approved throughout the storm and recovery.

“Our primary concern is the safety and wellbeing of our associates — taking care of them and their families,” Bell said. “We are working hard to re-open stores as soon as it is safe to do so, and we want to help associates get back to work as soon as they are ready.”

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Business

Walmart's Secret Advantage to Serving You This Holiday Season

The holiday season is a busy time of year at Walmart.

From October through December, hundreds of millions of Americans will visit more than 5,000 Walmart locations to shop for gifts, grab last-minute items for holiday meals and take advantage of special deals that come but once a year.

Now, more than ever, Walmart and its associates will be ready for them.

Based on the success of a similar effort in 2016, the company announced it will be offering extra hours available this time of year to our current associates, rather than hiring thousands of seasonal workers.

“Our associates make the holidays come to life in our stores, and we are thankful for everything they do,” said Judith McKenna, Chief Operating Officer. “As we head into our busiest time of the year, we know associates are ready to deliver for our customers and help give them a memorable and affordable Christmas.”

These extra hours will help staff traditional roles like cashier and stocker, as well as newly created, technology-empowered positions in Walmart’s growing online pickup department.

Here are three big reasons why the company is investing in its people for Holiday 2017:

  1. The way customers shop is rapidly changing. Walmart expects new services like Online Grocery Pickup to take off with the holiday cooking crowd, making the company’s specially trained personal shoppers an even more indispensable part of the team.
  2. The company’s Holiday Helpers program was a huge success last year, and in 2017 Walmart is increasing the number of Helpers across its fleet of stores. These associates are dedicated to helping customers get through stores faster by finding the shortest checkout line and opening registers as needed. They’ll even run to grab items customers may have forgotten, so they don’t lose their place.
  3. Walmart has increased its focus on service through new training, tools and technology. Thousands of associates have completed the company’s Pathways and Academy programs, which prepares them to more effectively serve customers during this busy season.

“The holidays are a special time of year for our customers and associates,” McKenna said. “This is what working in retail is all about, and we know our people have the passion to do even more this year.”

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Business

One Year Ago, We Welcomed Jet … and the Winners are Our Customers

When the Jet.com deal closed one year ago, many people asked, “Why Jet.com?”

At the time, we’d strengthened our e-commerce capabilities and were looking for the right partner to accelerate our efforts. So while it was a logical question to ask, the answer was really quite simple: Jet was the right partner at the right time. Both Walmart and Jet have a deep commitment to serving customers, and saving them money and time. By coming together, we could do all these things, better.

That’s exactly what we’re doing. In August, we partnered with Google for voice shopping. Earlier in the year, we launched Easy Reorder, a feature in our mobile app that helps customers easily access a list of items they purchase most frequently. We also launched free two-day shipping on millions of items – without a membership fee. And we’ve steadily expanded our merchandise assortment. This time last year, we had just reached 15 million items available on Walmart.com and today that number is 67 million items and rising.

We’ve welcomed other innovative online retailers to the Walmart family, including Bonobos, Hayneedle, Modcloth, Moosejaw and Shoes.com. Each of these acquisitions has helped strengthen our expertise in key product categories, provide an expanded assortment and a way to reach new customers. We’re able to provide these new companies the benefit of Walmart’s scale to lower their operating costs, which allows each to invest in the customer experience and grow the business.

We’re also seeing the power of our stores and e-commerce coming together to serve customers. We’re removing friction from our shopping experience – focused on making it fast, easy and fun for customers. Walmart customers now receive a discount for store pickup rather than home delivery, which we can offer by using our vast supply chain and store network to create efficiencies. With stores located within 10 miles of nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, it’s convenient for many of our customers, and saves them money.

In addition to 1,000 grocery pickup locations in the U.S., we’re testing associate delivery of Walmart.com orders in a few stores. By the end of the year, we’ll have approximately 100 automated pickup towers in stores across the country, where customers can pick up their orders within a matter of minutes. And we’re excited about the growth we’re seeing across our e-commerce portfolio. One important metric, Gross Merchandise Value, grew 69 percent in the first quarter this year, and was just as robust the next quarter at 67 percent. That’s proof customers are responding.

Marc Lore, who founded Jet, and now leads our U.S. e-commerce efforts, has proven to be the digital embodiment of Walmart. He has a fanatical focus on serving customers and creating the next generation of everyday low prices. It’s energizing how he and Greg Foran, CEO of Walmart U.S., and their teams continue to partner closely to delight customers in new ways across our apps, sites and stores.

I’m excited about how far we’ve come together, and even more excited about what’s ahead. Here’s to another great year of finding more ways to save our customers time and money, and delivering an easy and enjoyable shopping experience.

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