Innovation

Online Grocery Pickup: The Thanksgiving Test

We are heading into the busiest time of year as Thanksgiving approaches.

My husband and I are hosting Thanksgiving at our house this year. We’ve actually just started to take over that holiday and host it. I love hosting, because let’s face it: I like to have control over the menu and the food. I enjoy whipping up some of my favorites like pecan rum cake and mashed potato casserole to pair with a delicious ham or turkey. My husband’s favorite, though, is pumpkin pie.

I like to beat the crowd when it comes to grocery shopping for Thanksgiving, and I do that by using Walmart’s grocery pickup. They now offer mobile check-in, which makes my life even easier. I downloaded the app, ordered my groceries, and then went on with my day. I noticed they even had roasting pans, paper plates, utensils, and other items for hosting.

The mobile app alerts the associate when you arrive, so when I headed to the store the next day, I hadn’t even fully pulled into the parking spot yet, and I could see the associate coming out the door with all my groceries. The best part was, I didn’t even have to go in the store!

I ordered all my groceries for Thanksgiving that day. I was able to pick up my ham, turkey, stuffing, and everything I needed for our pumpkin pie, too. I saved time and stress, plus got everything I needed, including roasting pans. This last time I picked up our groceries, the attendant told me that because I regularly order gluten-free products there, he would request more from the vendor so that they always have what I need when I return. I was shocked by that; he really went above and beyond.

This year, I’ve decided to have my son assist me in the kitchen as we prepare for Thanksgiving dinner. He’s recently become very interested in cooking, so I decided it’s time for him to get in the kitchen and help me as he can now do more. The pumpkin pie is very simple to make, so that’s first on my list of teaching him. I’ve also been able to find gluten-free products at my local Walmart, which means my son and I can easily access foods we can eat. I picked up all that I needed at Walmart for a gluten-free pumpkin pie. My daughter is anxious to get started helping me as well, but for now I’ll let her have some fun with sprinkles and cookies until she gets just a little bit older. When her task involves cookies, though, she is perfectly content, although she may eat more cookies than she decorates!

As you are planning out your Thanksgiving dinner, be sure to give Walmart grocery pickup a try. I promise, you will never do grocery shopping the same once you do!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Editor’s Note: Walmart provided compensation for this content. All thoughts and opinions are those of the author. Read more from Kristy by visiting her blog, Mommy Hates Cooking.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Helping Americans Sleep Easier, Sinomax Brings Hundreds of Jobs to Tennessee

Manufacturing has always been a hallmark of Tennessee’s economy.

As commissioner for economic and community development in this great state, it’s my job to find lasting opportunities for growth and make them available to the members of our communities.

Tennessee’s commitment to innovation has put us at the forefront of today’s manufacturing renaissance. One of the more recent investments in our state comes from Sinomax – the largest producer of polyurethane foam bedding in China, which now has a facility in La Vergne, Tennessee.

We’re seeing a growing trend of companies reshoring production to the U.S., simply because it is more cost effective to produce and distribute products here. But to the members of these communities, this trend means so much more. While making it a goal to fill its workforce from the local crop of talent, Sinomax has committed to provide 350 La Vergne-area residents with high-quality, family-wage jobs.

I believe the U.S. manufacturing trend will not only continue, but also build momentum to become even more competitive in the years ahead. To stay competitive, we know that companies need a team of qualified workers who can excel in today’s manufacturing environment. Tennessee is fortunate to have an excellent governor who has truly become a pioneer in higher education. Because of initiatives like Tennessee Promise and Tennessee Reconnect, which offer all Tennesseans the chance to earn a postsecondary degree or certificate free of tuition and fees, our state leads the nation in developing and maintaining an educated, well-trained workforce.

We’re sending a clear message to employers about our commitment to building the highly-skilled workforce they need to face the future of manufacturing. And an investment in American jobs and manufacturing means we’re also providing our neighbors with an environment that creates a sustainable path into the future. We are grateful for companies like Sinomax that choose to invest in our state – and our people.

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Innovation

How Technology is Empowering My Store to Improve Customer Service

A lot has changed in my career over the years, starting with the day 17 years ago when my dad walked me into a Walmart store and helped me apply to be a seasonal cashier.

Today, I’m a store manager in Rocklin, California. The way my team works is also a lot different from those early days. Everything, from figuring out what products need to be on the shelves to processing customers’ online orders for pickup, is supported by digital programs and devices.

Things like Online Grocery Pickup and Same-Day Pickup make shopping faster and easier for our customers. Our associates on the sales floor also use mobile devices to help them communicate with customers – and each other – better. We can let shoppers know if we don’t have a product in the store, use our devices to look up an item’s nearest location or help customers order a product online.

There’s one big reason why embracing tech is so important to us: The world is changing, and working with mobile devices is second nature to most of us. Working better and smarter is a major reason why we’re leaning into tech. We’ve even created new positions to meet the demand of our online shopping and pickup programs.

In the end, these developments are also better for customers. What we’ve created are more intuitive ways to get products to customers as fast as possible. This is what is really most important to us. Our customers are the heart of everything we do.

I’ve been working even harder to make my team tech-focused ever since I found out we’re going to be a store that will house a Walmart Academy. We’re really trying to keep up with all the strides Walmart is making in online shopping and all things digital. I want to make sure my store is an example of the future of retail so the associates that go through the Academy here learn the best ways to work.

I was recently given the opportunity to visit the corporate offices in Bentonville, Arkansas, and hear from Greg Foran, president and chief executive officer of Walmart U.S., and other top-level executives on how important Academy stores are going to be for the future of Walmart. I’m excited for my store and my associates to be a part of that.

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Sustainability

One Company is Helping Keep Walmart and Our Communities in the ‘Green’

Glenn H. Garrett set a standard for protecting community waterways long before “going green” became a common refrain.

In 1996, after witnessing the damage left behind by hurricanes earlier that year, the disabled Marine Corps veteran launched his own business, Retention Pond Services, in his hometown of Wilmington, N.C.

The storms had destroyed the basins that hold stormwater and they were overflowing. Glenn decided to do something about it. Luckily, four years in the Marine Corps – from 1980 to 1984 – prepared him for the hard work ahead.

“It’s not glamorous, not high tech. It’s done with good, old-fashioned manpower,” he said of his business.

Glenn developed a relationship with Walmart in 2002 when a store in Wilmington had a runoff issue in the parking lot. Walmart’s construction division called the state’s stormwater regulators and asked for a recommendation on whom to hire for help. Retention Pond Services was their answer.

When the same issue happened again, this time at another store, Walmart decided to expand the maintenance procedures developed with Glenn’s company. From there, it went nationwide.

Retention Pond Services now repairs, maintains and services stormwater systems for 1,200 Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs across the U.S. The goal is to help Walmart meet rules and regulations set by the Environmental Protection Agency and reduce the risk of water pollution.

“I remember my first meeting with Walmart [representatives], and they started talking about being ‘green’. I had never heard anyone talk about green – being environmentally conscious,” he said, adding that the retailer encourages suppliers to be responsible by leading by example.

He didn’t realize it at the time, but Glenn and his company would play a major role in bringing that to fruition. He said Walmart has become a standard bearer of stormwater maintenance for big-box retailers throughout the U.S.

Retention Pond Services began with 16 employees. Fast-forward 20 years and it now employs as many as 250 workers each year, including Glenn and three other senior leaders, with clients ranging from retailers to municipalities. The number fluctuates with the seasons, but one thing remains constant – there are always military veterans like Glenn on staff. Several veterans started in junior positions and moved up through the ranks.

The business was hiring veterans before Walmart introduced its Veterans Welcome Home Commitment in 2013, but Glenn said the initiative is a great encouragement for suppliers and veterans alike. “It goes back to [Walmart] recognizing our service and appreciating what we’ve done,” he said. As a veteran himself, Glenn knows that the skills and can-do attitude learned in the military easily transfer over to civilian jobs. Glenn takes pride in his team – “I’m only as good as my worst employee” – and in protecting the environment. Much of that pride stems from his childhood in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.

“My grandfather used to tell me how great fishing was – about catching massive fish. When I was growing up, there were no fish. The bay was essentially dead, killed by pollution and runoff.”

In the 1970s, Maryland got involved in a save-the-bay campaign, and the federal government’s Water Quality Act followed in 1987. Those actions helped return fishing in the bay to its former glory.

Caring for the environment comes at a cost, whether it be time or money, but the results are well worth it. As U.S. businesses continue to grow, Glenn and his team are ready to step in and protect our communities.

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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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