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Walmart Strains to Keep Grocery Aisles Stocked - NYTimes.com
By STEPHANIE CLIFFORD
Published: April 3, 2013

Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and grocer, has cut so many employees that it no longer has enough workers to stock its shelves properly, according to some employees and industry analysts. Internal notes from a March meeting of top Walmart managers show the company grappling with low customer confidence in its produce and poor quality. “Lose Trust,” reads one note, “Don’t have items they are looking for — can’t find it.”...The retailer’s customers have complained about the quality and freshness in the produce aisle....Walmart charged into the grocery market about two decades ago, realizing that frequent trips by grocery shoppers could help improve traffic. Grocery made up 55 percent of Walmart United States sales in 2012, which was flat from the previous year. The company’s grocery prices are usually about 15 percent below competitors’, according to Supermarket News. ... Safeway customers are 71 percent confident in its fresh produce, the notes said, while Walmart customers are 48 percent confident in Walmart’s produce. In the interview, Mr. Sinclair of Walmart said he did not know where that data came from, but that “we believe that we can improve the perception of quality of produce for Walmart customers.”

The notes highlighted some stocking problems: “1 hour out of Refrigeration = 1 day less product life,” they read, adding that Walmart will change shift responsibilities so fresh food is not stocked overnight and goes out at 10 a.m., not 7 a.m. ...The company just introduced an inventory management system for produce departments nationwide that will track how many days an item has been in transit, how much shelf life remains, and what orders the company should place to meet demand. With delicate items like raspberries, “you almost need to know by the hour how long the product has been through our system,” which was hard to track when 42 distribution centers buying from hundreds of different vendors were sending around products,
cold_storage  Wal-Mart  fresh_produce  customer_experience  grocery  supermarkets  staffing  inventories  consumer_confidence  perishables  quality  tracking  shelf_life  merchandising  distribution_centres  refrigeration 
april 2013 by jerryking
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