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10/09/2022

Report: Walmart laying off 1,400 e-commerce fulfillment workers

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Walmart
Walmart is cutting employees at an Atlanta fulfillment hub.

Walmart is reportedly downsizing the workforce at an e-commerce fulfillment center located in Atlanta.

According to Reuters, Walmart has filed a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) stating it would eliminate 1,458 jobs at the Atlanta supply chain facility. Companies with 100 or more employees are required by federal law to provide a WARN notice, which provides at least 60 days of advance notification for facility closings and large-scale layoffs.

"We're converting the fulfillment center on Fulton Parkway (in Atlanta) to support our growing WFS (Walmart Fulfillment Services) business," a Walmart spokesperson told Reuters in a statement. "As part of the conversion, the facility's infrastructure, operational resources, processes, staffing requirements and equipment are being adjusted to meet the building’s needs."

Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) is a fee-based program providing a wide array of services, including storing, picking, packing and shipping, along with the handling of returns and customer service and the Walmart Connect retail media platform, to retailers participating in the discounter’s third-party online U.S. marketplace.

Walmart also told Reuters that it initially informed the workers who will be affected by the impending layoffs in August 2022. The discount giant also said it is assisting affected workers with finding new jobs, and that some employees at the facility are being assigned other roles at Walmart.

Walmart automates supply chain
Walmart has been making concerted efforts to streamline its supply chain and automatically fill online orders from its stores. The company has been ramping up its supply chain infrastructure, from expanding its successful pilot of store-based, high-tech “local fulfillment centers” to applying artificial intelligence to the palletizing of products in its regional distribution centers. Recently, the discount giant said it will fulfill online orders placed on Walmart.com from a hub in Salt Lake City, scheduled to open in summer 2022.

The company also plans to build a high-tech distribution center for fresh and frozen groceries in Spartanburg County, S.C., as well as two high-tech supply chain hubs in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and a high-tech center in Lebanon, Tenn. where human associates, artificial intelligence (AI) software, and automated robots working together to ship orders to customers as efficiently as possible.

Most recently, Walmart agreed to acquire Alert Innovation, a robotics automation company that develops material-handling technology for automating order fulfillment in retail supply chains. Walmart has been working with Alert to customize technology for its market fulfillment centers (MFC), which are in-store automated warehouses that fulfill online from stores, since 2016.

Walmart said at the time it announced the Alert Innovation purchase that its investments in this technology will enable the company to leverage its store footprint – 4,700 stores located within 10 miles of 90% of the U.S. population – for storage and fulfillment.

The company recently said it plans to hire about 40,000 employees for a variety of seasonal and full-time positions across its business as the holiday season draws near.

Headquartered in Bentonville, Ark., Walmart Inc. operates more than 10,500 stores and clubs under 46 banners in 24 countries and e-commerce websites.