Long Checkout Lines? Not this Holiday Season.

Updated Oct. 31, 2014
Editor’s Note: We announced our plans for the Checkout Promise to our associates at our annual Holiday Meeting earlier this year. At that time, we were still hard at work making plans and understanding the details for the offer. It is absolutely our intent, in the majority of our stores, to have all of our front-end registers open at peak times, but in the case that unforeseen circumstances occur absolutely all of our registers may not be open during the outlined times.

It’s not time to deck the halls yet, but at Walmart, we never stop thinking about the holidays. Nearly 6,000 of our managers and merchants just finished our annual Holiday Meeting in Denver – where we began getting ready for the biggest shopping season of the year.

While it’s still hot outside, we know our holiday offerings will be even hotter. But our customers have told us one of their biggest frustrations is long checkout lines. They want to get in and out of the store fast, especially during those busy shopping days between Black Friday and Christmas. We’ve listened and we’re making sure every register in our stores is open during those times this holiday season. We’re calling it our Checkout Promise. Here's how it would work:

Starting with the weekend after Black Friday and continuing each weekend through the final weekdays leading into Christmas, all of our registers will be open during peak shopping hours at our Supercenters and other stores that offer general merchandise like electronics, apparel, and toys. Customers can expect to find self-checkouts open and a cashier in every lane.

That’s a Walmart first. We want to do what’s best for our customers, and as Sam Walton always said – the customer is #1.  Shoppers want more convenience, and we’ll deliver so they can focus on celebrating the joy of the holidays with their family and friends.

As the season approaches, be on the lookout for more big changes and announcements to help our customers have the best holiday yet.



Sam’s Club Says ‘YEA!’ to Novel Ideas

Shreyas Parab, CEO of NovelTie, is a licensed small business owner from the suburbs of Philadelphia who is working hard to grow his novelty necktie company. He started NovelTie to “turn the occasion of having to wear a tie to the event where you get to wear your NovelTie.”

Eight months into his business, Shreyas has revenues of $3,500 and expanded his team of one to nine salespersons in two states.

Very impressive for a 14 year old. Yes, Shreyas Parab is 14 and balances his CEO demands with homework as a full-time 10th grader at Archmere Academy, where he is required to wear a uniform. Thanks to an after-school program called the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!), Shreyas wrote a real business plan, launched NovelTie and found investors in just 30 weeks.

His ties are meant “for teens by teens” – his best sellers, for example, are titled “stud muffin” and “chick magnet” – and his salesmen are students at neighboring schools with similar dress codes. Soon, he’ll also have an even bigger audience: NovelTies will be available to members in his local Sam’s Club through our ShowCase Events program, a limited-time merchandising opportunity for small or new business suppliers.

As a finalist at the June 2015 YEA! national competition,  Shreyas recently joined five YEA! scholars at Sam’s Club’s corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas, to pitch his business to buyers, participate in supplier workshops, visit with CEO Rosalind Brewer and experience the Walmart culture. In preparation for the trip, Shreyas did his homework: he read Made in America, Sam Walton’s autobiography. “I learned from the book ... that no matter where I was or what I was doing, I need to stay true to my intentions and who I am,” Shreyas wrote in a letter to Sam’s Club executives. “Even as Mr. Walton got older, he never forgot the values that he had grown up with and held true to his heart.”

33 years ago, “Mr. Walton” founded Sam’s Club to help small business owners save money, and today we continue working to help entrepreneurs of every age realize the American dream. Our club associates met thousands of YEA! scholars in more than 100 communities this year as they served as lead judges at local YEA! business pitch competitions. Sam’s Club also contributed startup funds to expand YEA! to 13 new communities in collaboration with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation.

You or a teen you know could launch the next NovelTie or even the next Walmart: YEA! classes start this fall. To find a YEA! chapter near you, visit

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A Closer Look at Your Walmart Vision Center

Here’s a statistic to note next time you’re standing in a crowd: 64% of U.S. adults —more than 157 million people — wear prescription eyeglasses. And because Walmart is the nation’s largest producer of finished prescription eyewear, there’s a good chance many of those glasses came from Walmart. In fact, it’s the only product that we manufacture start-to-finish in-house.

Earlier this year, we announced an investment of $10 million to upgrade the manufacturing equipment at our Fayetteville, Arkansas, optical lab. Similar upgrades are slated to occur at facilities in Crawfordsville, Indiana, and Dallas in the next few years.

The ultimate goal, both with Walmart’s eyeglasses and with the upgrades, is to serve more customers, more quickly, with even better quality.

Two associates hold up circular lenses and review them

Looking Back to Look Ahead

When Walmart first entered the optical business in 1991, Walmart was known for its affordable prices on lenses that were similar to other big box stores and eyeglass chains. Then, in 2000, Walmart started offering premium lenses like Carl Zeiss. Customers noticed the difference—and the company’s efforts to become a leader in eyeglass quality continued from there.

“Walmart was at the forefront of putting anti-reflective and anti-scratch coating on lenses,” said Ed Greene, the recently retired CEO of The Vision Council and past president of Carl Zeiss Optical Inc., the maker of Carl Zeiss Lenses.

When Walmart first invested in anti-reflective equipment in 2001, Ed said, other large retailers didn’t have the coatings or were using no-name or store-brand products. From the beginning, Walmart took steps to offer the best products on the market — products at a level of quality that exceeds industry standards. The upgrades happening now continue the commitment.

Machinery and conveyor belts fill an optical warehouse

A View of the Lab

The Walmart Optical Lab in Fayetteville, Arkansas, stands next to a highway on-ramp. The sign outside is small, and the brick building looks relatively unremarkable—a notable contrast to what happens inside.

Production at the lab runs 24 hours a day, with more than 620 associates working in rotating shifts. The record for a single day of eyeglasses production at the lab: 11,000 pairs.

A single pair of glasses starts its journey on a conveyor belt where the lenses are shaped to the appropriate thickness and curve by a generator and polisher before going through several coating processes for premium scratch resistance and anti-reflection. From there, the lenses are placed into frames by hand by “mounters.” (Quality control happens throughout; if any flaws are discovered, the process starts over.) It takes about eight hours from start to finish.

So where do the upgrades fit in?

Walmart is replacing all of its anti-reflection equipment (remember, this is the first key differentiator for the optical business) with newer machines so customers will experience even less glare. Surfacing machinery and edgers are also being replaced to enhance quality and improve capacity so the lab will be able to produce more glasses and serve more customers.

A piece of metal contains circular cutouts filled with glass lenses

Seeing the Customer Experience

The real difference, of course, is what our customers experience — and are able to purchase — in 3,000 Vision Centers at Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs. Along with Walmart-produced lenses, Vision Centers sell premium lenses like those from Nikon, Seiko, and Zeiss. The frame selection is large and includes designer frames like Drew Barrymore’s just-released Flower line.

What customers notice is: Walmart’s low price. Our glasses start at $38 for a complete set of eyewear and come with a one-year warranty—something that other retailers charge extra for. Given that the average cost of prescription eyeglasses in 2014 was $274.20, according to The Vision Council, shoppers can save big at Walmart. David Puchala, New York state-licensed Optician and Vision Center manager at Store 1744 in Webster, N.Y., agrees.

“The biggest reward,” David says, “is seeing the smile on mom’s face when she is quoted $200 or more for her child’s first pair of glasses somewhere else, and then comes to us and pays less than $70.” 

Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the September issue of Walmart World, the magazine for Walmart associates.

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Georgia Governor on ‘The Silicon Valley of the South’

As Walmart opens a new e-commerce fulfillment center in Atlanta, we caught up with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal for a quick chat about his home state – and its growing reputation as a tech incubator.

WMT: What is the most exciting thing about being governor of Georgia?

Deal: Our economy is seeing positive growth with thousands of new jobs added every month. We’re seeing the telltale signs of cranes and bulldozers humming on newly cleared land. We’re seeing home values recover and Georgia families rebuild their savings. In fact, since the start of my first term in 2011, we’ve helped create more than 400,000 private sector jobs. Companies representing a wide variety of industries continue to expand and relocate here. This growth strengthens local communities and our state as a whole.

WMT: What, if anything, can the public and private sectors teach each other about innovation?

Deal: Early in 2011, we put in place what we call the Competitiveness Initiative, a joint effort with leaders from government, universities and technical colleges and the private sector. The initiative examined six key factors identified by site selectors as the most important influencers in corporate location and expansion decisions:

  • Infrastructure
  • Innovation
  • Education and workforce development
  • Friendly business climate 
  • Global commerce
  • Government efficiency

Based on the recommendations from public and private stakeholders, we’ve been able to implement several positive policy changes and programs. This innovation and collaboration has served — and will continue to serve — Georgians well.  

WMT: What does the Walmart e-commerce fulfillment center opening mean for Atlanta’s identity as a burgeoning tech hub?

Deal: Georgia has experienced rapid growth in the tech sector in the past several years. In fact, Atlanta has been dubbed the “Silicon Valley of the South” due to our growing reputation as a technology hub. With the addition of Walmart’s fulfillment center, Georgia continues to cement its reputation as a tech incubator and innovator. These well-paying, high skills jobs are indeed the jobs of the future. We know that between now and the year 2020, STEM field occupations will introduce more than 79,000 new jobs to Georgia. In response, we’ve made significant investments and policy changes in order to prepare our students and workforce for these future jobs. I’m excited that Walmart has chosen to bring these cutting-edge jobs to Georgia, and I look forward to its continued growth in this industry. 

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Why This Tiny Chip Has Huge Security Benefits

If you’ve received any new credit cards in the last year or so, take a close look: There may be a microchip right above the card number. While that tiny chip can be easy to miss, soon it won’t be – starting this week, many retailers are using it to make a small change in your checkout process.

Because this tiny chip offers much greater security benefits versus traditional signature-based, magnetic stripe technology, on Oct. 1 many retailers, including Walmart, will begin prompting customers not to swipe, but to “dip” – aka insert and briefly leave the card in the payment terminal. 

Here’s how it works:

A GIF of a Credit Card being swiped in a credit card machine at cash wrap

Using a chip card to pay means the chip assigns a dynamic code that changes each time consumers use the card. Even if the code were obtained, it could not be used to make an additional purchase.  So when considering the risk of counterfeit, a chip is much more difficult to duplicate. 

So why the significance of Oct. 1? That’s the date set by Visa, MasterCard, American Express and Discover for the liability of credit card fraud to shift from credit card issuers to retailers. Merchants that haven’t changed their terminals to read chips could be responsible for fraud.

Walmart has long been pushing toward payments that give our customers more security than the traditional signature-based, magnetic stripe technology. In fact, here’s something else you may not know:  We began installing hardware that had the capability of accepting microchip cards more than nine years ago, and we activated the functionality on Nov. 1, 2014. Additionally, in 2014, both Walmart and Sam’s Club issued chip-enabled MasterCard cards to our branded cardholders. 

While the cards are changing, you will still have the quick, simple checkout experience you're accustomed to at Walmart and Sam’s Club. If you don’t have a microchip card, you can continue using your magnetic stripe card at Walmart and Sam’s Club just the same. In fact, when it comes to debit cards, many banks have not issued chip-enabled cards anyway: Only 25% of debit cards will be transferred to the new system by the end of 2015, according to a recent study by Pulse, a PIN debit network.

Walmart was among the first retailers to implement chip technology to better secure payments for credit card holders, and now, we’re finally starting to see this shift take place.

For additional resources regarding chip-enabled payments, visit the news section of our website.

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