Life

Your Gifting Questions, Answered: Win the Holidays with This Handy Guide

Some people are easy to buy gifts for: yourself, for example, or your BFF. Others are a bit more … challenging. Fear not, Dear Reader, our fictional in-house advice columnist, Liza, is here to show you how to use the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide to satisfy the most perplexing recipients on your list, actual or hypothetical.

Q: Dear Liza, I never know what to get my father-in-law for Hanukkah. He is the type of person who, if he wants something, just goes and buys it himself. Guys are so hard to buy for! Help! Sincerely, Joy

A: I hear you, Joy. I once bought my Dad a gift card, which I thought was a pretty safe bet, and he said he never shopped at that store and gave it back to me! The nerve! Fortunately, with Walmart’s gift guide, you can easily search “Gifts for Him” and narrow it down using what your father-in-law enjoys. For example, if he is into tech, pick up Google Home. If he always mans the grill at family get-togethers, the Gift Guide has a ton of options, too.

Q: Dear Liza, I’m spending the holidays with my cousin, and he and his wife have a baby. Social contract dictates that I should bring it some sort of gift. What do I get a baby? Diapers or something? Sincerely, Nick

A: While babies do often wear diapers, there is – quite reasonably – not a lot of data on whether or not they like them. We do know that babies enjoy toys they can touch and that have bright colors. Here’s what to do: Go to the Walmart Gift Guide. Click on “Gifts for Babies and Toddlers.” Peruse the options for toys, activities, and pajamas. For example, the VTech Sit-to-Stand Learning Walker is great for children 6 to 12 months. You can have it shipped to you, or pick up in store. The little one will love it, and the parents will be so impressed, they’ll want you to babysit!
P.S. Parents don’t typically like it when you refer to their offspring as “it.”


Q: Dear Liza, We’re hosting Christmas this year, and that means I am in charge of stockings. This adds a new layer to my normal giving plan, especially because everyone in my family – all ages, from grandparents to kids – has a stocking to fill! Can you help? Sincerely, Noelle

A: I got you, girl. In addition to searching our Gift Guide by recipient (Gifts for Her, Gifts for Grandparents), you can also search by theme. One of these themes includes – you guessed it – stocking stuffers! Whether you pick up some makeup brushes for your niece or chocolate covered cherries for your grandpa, you can get everything you need to impress your family on Christmas morning. (Pro tip: If you’re working within a budget, the Gift Guide allows you to search by price as well.)

TL; DR: Whether you shop by recipient (e.g. your grandparents), hobby (the adventurer, the tech lover), or species (we have gifts for pets, too), the Walmart.com Holiday Gift Guide has your nice list covered this holiday season.

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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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Life

Introducing ‘Outside the Box,’ a Podcast About Retail and All Things Related

No matter what kind of information you’re looking for, you can probably find a podcast that focuses on it.

From whales to Wales, from weather patterns to whether the latest movie is any good, they’re all topics that generate multiple search results in your favorite podcast app.

“Walmart” has many mentions there, too, but this week, you may notice that something new and different has appeared. We’re excited that this something is our new podcast – a series called Outside the Box.

With the topic of retail as a foundation, we’re focusing on conversations with some of the most brilliant thought leaders, innovators and visionaries working today. From the small things that make up shopping itself, to the bigger picture of how the retail industry plays in to society and the global economy.

Our first episode is about sustainability, and we’re excited to launch with some amazing guests, including Carter Roberts, CEO of World Wildlife Fund, Matt Knott, CEO of Feeding America and Ken Sullivan, CEO of Smithfield Foods. Future episodes of Outside the Box will touch on subjects like:

  • The Workforce of the Future. Where industry experts dissect the issues that will face employees in the coming years.
  • From Gen X to Millennials and now Gen Z. First Millennials overtook Gen X and now Gen Z is overtaking them, once again changing the world as we know it.
  • Technology. We’ll host a handful of industry insiders who can let us in on some of the more interesting and surprising applications of retail tech.
  • U.S. Manufacturing. We’ll talk to a business analyst, a merchandise supplier, and a government official about the challenges and benefits of making products in the United States.

If you’re a business owner or an entrepreneur, this podcast is for you. If you’re a maker, a consumer, a doer – in short, everyone! – this podcast is for you.

Learn more about the series and subscribe here, and tell us what you think in the comments below.

“What is Sustainability?” – the first episode of Outside the Box, was recorded in the Walmart Radio studio at our home office in Bentonville, Arkansas. Most other days, this studio is home to Walmart Radio DJs Bo and Antonio who host the Walmart Radio Show, which airs daily in our stores across the country.

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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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