Another one for the Walmart Files….
An article in Forbes reports that Walmart is embarking on a new program. The retail giant is undertaking a new plan for staffing stores so shoppers will actually pay for their goods instead of abandoning their filled carts.
The purpose, of course, is to meet heavy shopping hours with more store help, while scaling down during slower periods, generally weekday afternoons. Shorter lines at the register mean more happy customers who are more likely to return. That’s more important to the business than a cashier, unhappy about spreading her work week over four days rather than three, quitting and not returning.
First, I think the author of the above article is WAY off base. Has he ever talked with one of the people running the register there? I have yet to hear one complain about working too many hours. On the contrary, most would WELCOME the added hours. I’ve heard them complain about being forced to wear uniforms and lack of hours, but I’ve never heard anyone complain about stretching their workweek from 3 days to 4.
But let’s pretend like Walmart’s ridiculous check out lines are the result of management’s efforts to improve working conditions for their employees. (A note to those of you who have worked for Walmart, please get up off the floor, wipe the tears from your eyes and stop laughing.) It’s a shame that it took a downturn in sales for the retailer to wake up and smell the coffee.
Note to Walmart: It’s ALL about keeping the customers happy. If you could keep employees happy as well, then perhaps Walmart would be on it’s way to it’s glory days back in the roaring 80’s.
By the way, the overall 2006 holiday season for Walmart was the worst on record, according to analysts. Is there any chance that downturn was the result of discontinuing layaways?
According to the Associate Press:
Wal-Mart had its weakest December performance since 2000, when it posted a 0.3 percent gain, according to Thomson Financial. The slim 0.8 percent increase for November and December combined was the worst since Thomson Financial began tracking same-store sales data in 1995.
Wal-Mart has struggled with a mix of problems, including the fact that its lower-income customers were hurt by soaring gas prices. But the company’s lackluster sales have persisted even as the cost of gas retreated – partly because its attempt to broaden its appeal to higher-income shoppers was poorly executed, particularly in apparel and home furnishings.
IMHO: there was no way to successfully execute an appeal to higher income shoppers for Walmart. By appealing to those shoppers, Walmart could not help but alienate their core customers.
I don’t frequent my local Walmart, but every time I do, I look at the people who are shopping there and wonder how long it’s been since someone from Bentonville has actually visited a store and shook the hands of a few customers.
Walmart has lost sight of what’s happening inside their stores. They don’t know their customers and they don’t know their employees.
While it’s one thing for a writer for Forbes to have no idea what beef a Walmart cashier has, it’s quite another when Bentonville employees don’t know. Maybe some of those high level executives need to take a field trip. I recommend they spend a day running the registers at the Walmart in Fort Pierce, Florida. It would be an eye opening experience for them.
If you’re a small business owner, you know what it’s like on the front lines. Remember, that knowledge is your secret weapon against the giants like Walmart.