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10/12/2021

Walmart acts to minimize supply chain disruption for the holidays

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Hiring new store associates is one way Walmart intends to ensure customers can buy the products they want for the holidays.

Walmart is following a multi-faceted strategy to make sure it meets customer demand for holiday products.

In a corporate blog post, the discount giant details multiple steps it is taking to overcome supply chain challenges such as port delays, increased consumer demand, and holiday season forecasting.

These steps include working with suppliers to source holiday merchandise earlier than usual and finding ways to move those products inside its supply chain network as quickly as possible. Walmart reported higher inventory in the second quarter of 2021 than a year earlier.

[Read more: Walmart Q2 earnings, sales top estimates amid strong traffic; online sales cool]

In addition, Walmart is hiring 20,000 new supply chain positions to help move products through its facilities as quickly as possible, as well as 150,000 U.S. store associates for the holiday season and beyond.

The company has also brought automation to its regional distribution centers, which helps get products from distribution centers to stores faster. Furthermore, Walmart is continuing a program it launched during the 2020 holiday shopping season that routes some orders from its e-commerce site to be fulfilled straight from its brick-and-mortar stores. Walmart uses existing local delivery capabilities to get orders to customers faster, while reducing the load on its online fulfillment centers.

Other facets of Walmart’s strategy to ensure it meets holiday demand include:

  • Chartering ships and diverted shipments through less congested ports.
  • Rerouting inland shipments, utilizing less conventional transportation methods to avoid rail delays.
  • Making wage investments in supply chain associates throughout the year, with plans to do so through the holidays to meet growing customer demand.
  • Hiring more than 3,000 drivers during 2021, with more in the pipeline.
  • Promoting and training thousands of supply chain associates in 2021, with plans to do the same as more continue to emerge as leaders throughout its network.
  • Adding storage capacity in its fulfillment and distribution network through new facilities.

“We've always been committed to delivering everything customers need for a great holiday, and I’m proud of the hard work our associates are doing to put Walmart in a position to do that again this year,” Joe Metzger, executive VP, supply chain operations, Walmart U.S., said in the blog post. We know there is a lot of uncertainty as the pandemic continues and customer needs continue to adjust as we head into the 2021 holiday season, but I’m confident in our efforts. Customers can rest assured we’re doing everything we can to deliver a holiday experience they’ve come to expect and help them get what they need for everyone on their gift list at a Walmart value. We’ve been delivering the holidays for over 50 years. This year, we’re doing even more to help ensure product orders arrive when customers need them.”