Life

Iconic Brawny Man Steps Aside for Women’s History Month

What does it mean to be strong? To be resilient? As the makers of Brawny paper towels, it’s our job to make sure the iconic Brawny Man – and the product he represents – embodies these traits.

And that’s why, in honor of Women’s History Month, The Brawny Man is temporarily stepping aside this March to showcase strong women and their impact on history (yesterday and today).

This might not seem like a big deal, but it’s a real change for a brand whose toughness has been represented by a plaid-clad guy for more than 40 years. So we are excited to bring this limited edition packaging design to Walmart customers. Who says a woman can’t take the place of the Brawny Man? Not us.

While simple, the idea that being strong isn’t limited to men was a new way for us to think about Brawny. And in that thinking, we found a connection with consumers that goes way beyond paper towels. As a result, the #StrengthHasNoGender initiative was born last year as an extension of the “Stay Giant” campaign for our paper towels.

This year, we found more inspirational stories to share. From the first African-American female combat pilot to a college student who developed an app that detects breast cancer, strong women are making a difference and breaking barriers in so many different fields. You can view these films on our website, and I encourage you to do so. These achievements inspire us all to reach higher and push further – no matter what barriers we may face. They’re truly inspiring stories, and they get to the core of what our brand is about.

But why these stories? Because we know that women are currently underrepresented in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Empowering women and girls in STEM seemed like a great way to inspire young women with our campaign. That’s why we partnered with Girls Inc., to encourage girls to participate in hands-on activities, explore, ask questions and solve problems. And because someday we want these same girls to consider a STEM job with a manufacturing company like ours, making Brawny stronger.

#StrengthHasNoGender is part of the evolution in the way we talk about our brand: that strength goes way beyond paper towels. Overall, we hope the campaign and packaging change promotes a conversation about what it means to be strong and resilient. We hope women and girls everywhere are inspired to pursue their dreams no matter what obstacles they face. And finally, we hope that one day, the notion that Strength Has No Gender will be universal – understood and accepted by everyone.

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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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