U.S. Manufacturing

Making Things – and Making a Difference

Tomorrow, Walmart will welcome hundreds of suppliers and potential suppliers to our headquarters to hear their pitches about new products made, assembled, grown or sourced in the United States. It’s our first Open Call event, and we hope that by opening our doors, we can help open even bigger ones for families and communities across America.
 
With changes in labor and energy costs overseas, it makes sense to make more products closer to the point of consumption. In the U.S., Walmart has pledged to buy an additional $250 billion over 10 years in products that support American manufacturing. By doing so, not only can we bring our customers more great, local products – but our suppliers can bring their communities more jobs.
 

Element Electronics recently opened a TV production facility in Winnsboro, S.C., that is a great example of how a community can be revitalized when new jobs are created. Check out the video for more of their story.

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Community

Building Hygiene Kits and a Better Future

Shampoo, toothpaste, toothbrushes – many of us take these basic supplies for granted, but these hygiene items can truly save lives.

In the wake of disasters and crises, where people have often lost everything or fled with just their clothes on their backs, a simple bar of soap can help keep families safe from deadly diseases like cholera.

With the help of our partners, International Medical Corps works to send these essential hygiene kits to countries such as Nigeria, where fighting has forced thousands from their homes in the north, as well as other disaster-prone areas where populations have been displaced.

On June 2, Walmart volunteers attending the company’s annual shareholders meeting came together to assemble hygiene kits for families uprooted by conflict in Nigeria and to prepare for when the next major weather disaster may strike. Along with essentials such as toothpaste, combs and nail clippers, the kits also included solar lights, which provide a safe alternative to fire for visibility during nighttime cooking and studying. These lights also help reduce the risk of violence and sexual assault.

This isn’t the first time International Medical Corps and Walmart have worked together to help disaster-stricken communities across the globe. When Ebola threatened millions across West Africa, the Walmart Foundation was among the first to help, providing swift and flexible support to our emergency response efforts. When a 7.8 magnitude earthquake rocked Nepal in April 2015, the Walmart Foundation stepped up once again with a donation that helped us meet immediate needs in some of the most remote villages at the epicenter of the quake.

It was great to see these several hundred volunteers working together. But more than simply showing up, everyone was engaged and wanted to know more about what we were up to and how to give back. The teamwork, energy and enthusiasm were infectious. Everywhere we looked, people were helping others, collaborating, and building hygiene kits for people in need.

Thanks to Walmart, the Walmart Foundation, and the hundreds of associates who came out to pack the family hygiene kits, International Medical Corps will be able to send 1,500 kits to countries affected by disaster and crisis. One thousand kits will be sent to Nigeria, where International Medical Corps is providing health, nutrition, and hygiene services in the remote northern region of the country to families who continue to be displaced by ongoing conflict.

The rest of the kits will be prepositioned and ready to be deployed in the aftermath of the next crisis – wherever and whenever that may be.

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U.S. Manufacturing

One Big YES! for Products that Support American Jobs

If a product is made in America, or if it supports American jobs – Walmart wants it on our shelves.

That’s the message we delivered Tuesday at our fourth U.S. Manufacturing Summit. Entrepreneurs from more than 40 states crowded into four buildings across our Bentonville, Arkansas campus to participate in 800 pitch meetings with our Sam’s Club, Walmart and Walmart.com buying teams.  As always, it was awesome to spend the day with people of all backgrounds united in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism.

Walmart has been on this journey since January 2013 when we announced our commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion of goods that support American jobs. This year was extra special, because we had a big surprise for our Open Callers. It was one beautiful word: “YES!” We said YES to virtually all items presented. If it can ship safely to a customer’s home, then we are, at a minimum, listing it on Walmart.com. Of course, many items will also be available on store shelves – in some cases just 40 stores, or 4,500 depending on customer demand and available supply. Whether you’re a family-owned start-up or a longtime supplier looking to expand production, the chance to sell YOUR product to the 140 million Americans Walmart serves each week is a game-changer.

So what’s in a yes for a new supplier to Walmart? Excitement. Tears of joy. Disbelief. And maybe some nervousness, thinking of the hard work required to meet the demand of a large retail order. I saw all of this and more. But what really stood out were the personal stories of the people that brought their American-made items to sell at Walmart. People I met, like:

  • Two innovators who, despite not knowing each other, shared a rental car and drove nearly all night to make their appointment when their late evening flight was cancelled
  • The teenage CEO who pitched her own product to buyers
  • Two brothers, one a policeman and one a fireman, whose barbecue sauce started as a local competition between the two civic forces

What we are doing matters for America. In fact, Boston Consulting Group estimates more than one million U.S. jobs will be created through our $250 billion commitment. It definitely matters to Walmart — it’s very much in our interest to lessen shipping times, and to support the communities we are part of. But most of all, it matters to our customers. Eighty-five percent say it’s important for retailers to carry products assembled or produced in the U.S.  As a merchant responsible for a host of categories including health and wellness, pets, baby and beauty, I know firsthand that if you give customers what they want at a great price, results will follow.

As I reflect on the personal stories and the impact this work is having on American jobs and communities, it’s easy to see why this year was special. There’s no doubt we’ve created additional momentum just by saying YES. And there’s no denying that work is a beautiful thing.

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Business

A New Angle on Our Fresh Produce Departments

As a store manager, nothing compares to the thrill of actually seeing or hearing a customer react to a change I’ve worked with a team of associates to bring to life. In fact, since the remodel of our store earlier this year, I’ve purposely spent more time in our fresh produce department, just to watch and listen.

My store was among the first of our remodeled locations to unveil Walmart’s new Fresh Angle approach, which places fresh, unpackaged vegetables front and center. When you walk into our store today, you're intentionally greeted with a farmer’s market vibe. We’ve lowered the profile of our fixtures so customers can see across the entire department. We’ve captured the field-to-store experience, and in a way that’s easier and more enjoyable for customers to navigate. But – while the positive feedback on the visual aspect of the program represents a victory in itself – that barely scratches the surface of what Fresh Angle is all about.

The fact is, “looking” fresh only goes so far. The key is making sure the fresh produce our customers buy in our stores continues to look and taste the same when they pull it out of the fridge three days later. That’s the real driving force behind this new approach, which has been rolled out at 180 stores to date and more than 3,000 by the end of the year.

In addition to improving the sight lines across our produce department, we’ve reconfigured our fixtures to look fuller while holding fewer products. At the same time, we’ve maintained our broad assortment.

Why fewer products? Pressure and time go a long way in determining the freshness of an item. By reducing the depth of our produce fixtures, our avocados are no longer stacked four or five deep. Same goes for tomatoes and so many other popular fresh items. By reducing the depth of our fixtures, we’ve reduced the volume of product we’re holding on the sales floor at any given time. And, given the clock on freshness begins ticking the moment fresh fruit and vegetables are picked, we’re essentially passing increased freshness on to our customers – and working even harder to reduce food waste.

It was eye-opening how a department could look so abundant with less. It’s helping us reduce throwaways and operate more efficiently across the board. We’ve also received positive customer feedback at stores where Fresh Angle has been implemented.

Customers want fresher products so they can enjoy them longer. With Fresh Angle, we’ve developed a vehicle to deliver on those expectations. The impact has been immediate – and it’s growing. It just makes sense.

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Heritage

Remembering Don Soderquist, Retired Walmart COO

Walmart’s culture – defined by our core values of service, respect and excellence – has always been key to our success.

That culture lost a very significant champion this week, as Don Soderquist, a key member of our company’s leadership team until his retirement in 2002, passed away.

Don joined Walmart in 1980 as executive vice president of administration and logistics and was a driving force behind our company’s growth. In fact, he led us through a period of significant progress from 1988 to 1999 when he served as vice chairman and chief operating officer. During his tenure, the company’s revenue increased from $1 billion to more than $200 billion.

Don epitomized the term servant leader. He was always thinking of others, provided great feedback and was encouraging to so many people. He had a deep passion for integrity, and it was Don who drafted our original core values. Don became known as the “Keeper of the Culture” after our founder, Sam Walton, passed away because he not only helped define our values – he lived out our culture and spoke passionately about it year after year. He truly believed that ordinary people could do extraordinary things when they worked together, and he taught the beliefs and values that supported that conviction for the rest of his life. Even after his retirement, he invested his time and energy into many associates who still work for the company.

After retirement, he established The Soderquist Center for Leadership and Ethics in Northwest Arkansas to provide values-focused development training to future generations of leaders. In 2005, he wrote the book “The Walmart Way” to teach others how to apply the lessons that made Walmart successful to their own lives and careers. He was also involved in numerous charitable organizations and served on several corporate boards.

Don touched so many lives here, and he will be dearly missed by his family and all of us at Walmart.

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