Walmart has announced that stores are doing away with employees who stock shelves. The company will begin to transition to a self-stocking-based inventory system. The company plans to place boxes of inventory throughout the isles where the merchandise would normally be displayed on shelves. The idea is that customers will grab the boxes and place the product on the shelves.
The company points to the success of its self-checkout as being the motivator for implementing the new system. Walmart Spokesman Jim Duggard said “when self-checkout was initially rolled out in stores, customers were up in arms about the new process but now look at it. When this new system has been in place for some time, people will come around” The company states that self-checkout is now far more popular than standard checkout and they feel customers will feel the same about self-stocking.
The store will place the boxes of merchandise on the floor and allow customers to place items on shelves. Much like the self-checkout lines, employees will wander the isles answering customer questions and helping when intervention is needed.
Many employees have complained that it may take longer to get an item if someone forgets to grab a box for an item or needs assistance in finding an item. In addition, loss prevention managers are concerned that this new system will increase theft because people won’t be as closely watched as they were with employees stocking shelves. Walmart has said that theft was already reduced because of the cameras they now have in all stores.
The company has not announced when the new system will begin to be implemented, but expects the transition to be gradual. Walmart believes the new system will increase sales because customers will feel like they are more connected to the company.
While many people are calling this “job killing” Walmart says those jobs were never going to be a long term position anyway and most Walmart workers from 18-25 years old who had just graduated college and could not find a job were most likely placed there while they looked for employment elsewhere.