Walmart plans a full year of investments for stores in the St. Louis metro area. The plan calls for millions of dollars in additional investments in store operations, technology and associate opportunity.
During Walmart’s 47th Annual Shareholders’ Meeting in June, the retailer outlined its vision to “invent the future of shopping again” by leveraging technology to empower associates and improve the customer experience.
“We’re going to make shopping with us faster, easier and more enjoyable,” Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon said. “We’ll do more than just save customers money, and you, our associates, will make the difference. Looking ahead, we will compete with technology, but win with people. We will be people-led and tech-empowered.”
The positive momentum showcased in Walmart’s most recent earnings report is, in part, attributed to many of the innovations and investments the company has been making in store operations. This investment is highlighted by multimillion-dollar capital investments to improve existing stores, including seven store remodels across the St. Louis area this year. Improvements have recently been made or are currently underway at Walmart Supercenters in the following locations:
o Waterloo, Ill.
o Arnold, Mo.
o Desloge, Mo.
o Manchester, Mo.
o St. Ann, Mo.
o Town and Country, Mo.
o Warrenton, Mo.
Specific improvements to the stores include state-of-the-art electronics departments with interactive displays; the relocation of Walmart Pickup to the front of the store; the creation of additional self-checkout lanes; enhanced baby departments; refreshed pharmacies and store layouts that are easier to navigate, and feature improved flow, wider aisles and lower fixtures for better lines of sight.
Walmart is investing in its area associates, both in training and career advancement. In FY2017, Walmart completed a $2.7 billion investment in U.S. associates that included increases in training, education and higher wages.
The region’s first Walmart Training Academy opened last summer in St. Charles, and a second St. Louis Metro Area Academy opened in January in South St. Louis County at the Walmart Supercenter on Telegraph Road. Each academy trains associates from about 25 surrounding stores. The academies provide consistent, hands-on classroom and sales floor training on core retail skills, merchandising, leadership and operations, giving associates the skills and knowledge to run their specific departments and better serve their customers, as well as the knowledge to succeed and advance.
In addition, Walmart just announced it is adding virtual reality to its Academy training program. Associates will wear VR headsets to experience different lifelike store environments to experiment, learn and handle various situations.
Investing through technology
Walmart is also utilizing technology to give customers a better shopping experience.
Walmart’s Online Grocery Pickup service is one of many ways. The free service enables customers to order groceries online and pick them up at their local Walmart store without ever leaving their cars.
Across the St. Louis Metro Area, Online Grocery Pickup is expanding. In March, the service was launched at the Walmart Supercenter locations in Warrenton, Mo., and Wood River. These stores added to the growing list of St. Louis area stores offering Online Grocery Pickup, including locations in Arnold, Mo., Collinsville, Festus, Mo., High Ridge, Mo., Lake Saint Louis, Mo., St. Peters, Mo. and Washington, Mo. In all, Walmart will launch Online Grocery Pickup at 600 store locations throughout the country this year.
“2017 is going to be an exciting year for Walmart in the St. Louis area and across the state of Missouri as we continue to focus on how to better serve our customers through innovation and investments so they can save both time and money,” said Becky Dedman, Walmart Regional General Manager for the St. Louis Metro Area. “We’ve had a sharp focus on making our store experience second to none and our customers are telling us that our plan is working. Our team is energized and we’re looking forward to exceeding our customer’s expectations for what a great Walmart shopping experience can be like.”
The Illinois Business Journal welcome news of businesses in and around Southwestern Illinois. Send it to Editor Dennis Grubaugh, [email protected]