Opportunity

In Letter to Associates, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon Announces Higher Pay

Editor’s Note: Earlier today, Walmart CEO Doug McMillon sent this letter and video to our U.S. associates, outlining a new approach to the jobs we offer.

As many of you know, I’m really proud to have been a Walmart associate for a long time. This company has given so many of us opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. We joined Walmart because we wanted a job but found much more than that. This company is a really special place. One of the reasons we’ve had some success is that we’ve known that every person, every voice, every idea has potential. You’ve heard us say things like our secret to success is that we’re all working together and that “our people make the difference.” While that phrase started as a meeting theme in 1979, it became a way of thinking. It’s what we believe. It’s what I believe. Our actions must match our beliefs. So today, we’re announcing a series of important changes that demonstrate our commitment to you, our associates.

After all, we’re all associates. We have different roles at different times in our career and every one of them is important. Today’s cashiers will be tomorrow’s store or club managers. Today’s managers are tomorrow’s vice presidents. Tomorrow’s CEO will almost definitely come from inside our company. During our recent Walmart U.S. year beginning meeting, I asked all of those in the arena, more than 7,000 people, to stand if they started their Walmart career in an hourly role. It felt like almost everyone stood up. It was an emotional moment. It made the word opportunity real.  In fact, our statistics show that about 75% of our U.S. management teams began in an hourly role.

So, how do we make sure that each one of you has the same opportunity, or better, as those that came before?

It starts by making sure we’re setting you up for success. We need great store managers and assistant managers who know what they’re doing, care about you and know how to teach effectively. We need stores with the right tools and environment for you to thrive. I think you feel the same way.  When I’m out in stores today, one thing I hear from associates at all levels is that you want to be freed up and empowered to serve your customers better.  You also want to know that there’s opportunity here and that your hard work will be recognized and rewarded. Our business is pretty simple when we boil it all down; sometimes we make it too complicated.

I’ve seen us change a lot over the years. We’re always trying to do the right thing and build a stronger business. We frequently get it right but sometimes we don’t. When we don’t, we adjust.  In recent years we’ve had tough economic environments, a rapidly growing company, and fundamental shifts in how customers are shopping.  We also made a few changes aimed at productivity and efficiency that undermined the feeling of ownership some of you have for your business.  When we take a step back, it’s clear to me that one of our highest priorities must be to invest more in our people this year.

Today, we’re announcing a package of changes in Walmart U.S. that will kick off a new approach to our jobs.  We’re pursuing comprehensive changes to our hiring, training, compensation, and scheduling programs, as well as to our store structure, and these changes will be sustainable over the long term.  

One of the most immediate changes is that we’ll raise our starting pay, and we’ll provide opportunities for further raises based on performance.  For our current associates, we’ll start by raising our entry wage to at least $9 an hour in April, and, by February of next year, all current associates will earn at least $10 an hour.  I’m also excited about an innovative program we’re launching for future associates that will allow you to join Walmart at $9 an hour or more next year, receive skills-based training for six months, and then be guaranteed at least $10 an hour upon successful completion of that program.  We’re also strengthening our department manager roles and will raise the starting wage for some of these positions to at least $13 an hour this summer and at least $15 an hour early next year.  There will be no better place in retail to learn, grow, and build a career than Walmart.

Sam’s Club is also making some important changes today, specifically to starting wages. Around the world, we operate with the same set of beliefs, and we’ll continue to share what we learn across countries. Every associate matters.  

As important as a starting wage is, what’s even more important is opportunity, and we’ll continue to provide that ladder that any of you can climb.

I’ve seen it.  I’ve lived it.  And I want nothing more than for every Walmart associate today to feel that same connection to the company that I feel and to have the same opportunities I’ve had.  Let’s work together to serve our customers, grow our company, and take care of one another. 

Thanks for all you do.  You really do make the difference.


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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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Opportunity

Retired Store Manager Fashions Second Career Out of Dreams and Opportunity

Sometimes it’s not enough to follow your dreams. You also need someone else to see your potential.

My career at Walmart was a dream – so unanticipated! And that set me up to follow yet another dream. After nearly 20 years, I retired Feb. 17 as manager of supercenter #2914 in Massillon, Ohio, to start my own business as a fashion stylist – something I’ve been passionate about for years – and to spend more time with my precious family.

I have long had an interest in fashion, starting back when my mother was a seamstress and would create her own designs as I was growing up. Most of my wardrobe was handmade by her! I always loved how wearing something special made me feel. Working at Walmart, particularly with women, rekindled a passion in me to witness the impact of dressing well. Increased confidence, better communication, direct eye contact – we all know how that feels. Feeling positive about ourselves can be transformational.

My retail career had simple beginnings in 1997, when I was a stay-at-home mom with five small children in a single-income family. That August I was looking to get a little extra money for Christmas and applied for the first clock-in-and-out job of my life. Walmart hired me as a temporary associate despite my having dropped out of college to start a family and having zero experience in retail. I never would have dreamed I’d take a job stocking store shelves overnight and end up managing 500 people.

This company backed me every step of the way, seeing and believing in a potential I didn't recognize. One of my first store managers took a significant interest in challenging and pushing me to see opportunities that existed. It taught me how important the human touch can be.

I remember one young man who was doing a really good job as an hourly supervisor at my store. Not long after we talked about his potential, he put his job in jeopardy by clocking in late on multiple days. Instead of giving up on him, his direct supervisor asked him what was going on. He shared that his car had broken down, and with no other transportation he’d had to walk the four miles to and from the store. After hearing this, I bought him a bicycle to help put him back on the right track. He ended up going into a management program and is doing really well today.

As for me, my story has come full circle. Walmart not only gave me the acumen and process to run my own business, it also gave my husband and me the financial security to start this second phase of our lives. My baby was in kindergarten when I started my career, and now all my children are grown and college-educated. Freedom in my schedule allows me to be a stay-at-home grandma to five grandchildren.

Having been at the Massillon supercenter for the last four years, it was bittersweet to turn over my keys and the responsibility. But, I’m excited to continue being a cheerleader from the outside. The people I hired are going to go even further than I did with the belief they can have limitless careers.

Photos courtesy of Massillon Independent.

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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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