Supply chain issues across the retail industry have remained in the news in recent months. Joe Metzger, EVP of supply chain operations for Walmart U.S., recently addressed the issue in a blog.
“With so many news stories about port delays, increased consumer demand and holiday season forecasting, it’s natural to wonder whether items will make it to store shelves and how this might affect holiday preparations,” Metzger stated.
“But increased demand for the products customers want is nothing new for this time of year, and it’s certainly nothing new for Walmart. We’ve been delivering the holidays for over 50 years. This year, we’re doing even more to help ensure product orders arrive when customers need them.”
He stated that knowing the challenges the overall supply chain system is facing, Walmart is taking additional steps to navigate the hurdles and minimize disruption so it can deliver for its customers this holiday season.
“We’ve worked with suppliers to source holiday merchandise earlier than usual and are finding ways to move those products inside our supply chain network as quickly as possible. We have been laser-focused on inventory levels since the start of the pandemic and reported higher inventory in the second quarter this year than a year ago,” he stated. “While we’d like to see inventory levels continue to improve, we’re on the right track.”
Metzger listed some of the actions Walmart has taken to be in the best possible position to deliver for its customers:
- Chartered ships and diverted shipments through less congested ports;
- Rerouted inland shipments, utilizing less conventional transportation methods to avoid rail delays;
- Invested in supply associates through wage investments throughout the year and plan to do so through the holidays to acknowledge their extraordinary efforts, as well as to meet growing customer demand;
- Hired more than 3,000 drivers this year, with more in the pipeline;
- Hiring 20,000 permanent supply chain positions to help move products through facilities as quickly as possible;
- Promoted and trained thousands of supply chain associates this year, with plans to do the same as many more continue to emerge as leaders throughout our network;
- Added storage capacity in its fulfillment and distribution network through new facilities;
- Working to expand its automation capabilities in existing facilities, which helps get products from distribution centers to stores faster;
- Expanding delivery capabilities and routing online orders straight from stores; and
- Working aggressively to ensure Walmart has associates available to help customers and fill online orders by hiring 150,000 associates across the country, so it is prepared to serve customers whether they choose to shop in-store or online.
“We’ve always been committed to delivering everything customers need for a great holiday, and I’m proud of the hard work our associates are doing to put Walmart in a position to do that again this year,” Metzger stated. “We know there is a lot of uncertainty as the pandemic continues and customer needs continue to adjust as we head into the 2021 holiday season, but I’m confident in our efforts. Customers can rest assured we’re doing everything we can to deliver a holiday experience they’ve come to expect and help them get what they need for everyone on their gift list at a Walmart value.”