How Walmart is adapting its store operating model

Stewart Samuel
Program Director - Canada
@RetailAnalysis

Date : 17 September 2020

Walmart is introducing a team-based operating model at its US Supercenters following a successful initiative at Sam’s Club over the last 12 months and its launch at its Neighborhood Market stores earlier this year.

Building small teams

The new model sees Walmart create small teams of associates who will be cross-trained and given ownership of all tasks within their area. This will include stocking, food preparation and price changing, as relevant. To lead these teams, it’s introducing future-focused leadership roles. These will be focused on team development and supporting the retailer’s strategic priorities.

Source: Walmart

New leadership roles

The new roles include store lead, previously the co-manager role, who will be responsible for the store when the manager is not present and will effectively be a store manager in training position. The coach, formerly assistant store manager, will be responsible for financials, merchandising, staffing and talent for a larger area. The team lead, formerly the department manager, will lead a small team of associates, setting priorities and goals.

Investing in service roles

With the new structure built around higher-skilled jobs of the future, Walmart is also making investments in associates’ pay. The new structure also enables pay and career progression. Associates in frontline specialised roles, such as bakery and deli, will see specific investment in hourly positions, along with those in auto care centre roles.

Preparing for omnichannel growth

Walmart is also investing in digital roles, including pickup and delivery. This is an area where the business expects to see continued growth. This team-led approach reflects the changing nature of work at Walmart, as it optimises technologies to support repetitive and scalable tasks, enabling the investments into customer-facing roles. Retailers globally are continuing to adjust their operating models, particularly those focused on driving an omnichannel model, recognising that traditional store structures are less relevant as the channel mix continues to evolve.

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