Roughly 1,500 Walmart workers that are employed in back office positions found out today that their jobs are being eliminated. Kory Lunberg, spokesman for Walmart Stores, Inc. (NASDAQ:WMT), said in a statement that the company is eliminating accounting and invoicing roles at approximately 500 locations, affecting two to three associates per store. The employee reductions will mainly affect stores in the Western region of the United States.
The company said that they want their employees to focus on customer service instead of the back-office work. Instead of having physical accountants, the affected stores will now use “cash recycler” machines for counting money. Invoicing will be moved to its home office in Bentonville, Ark.
The point of the job eliminations is to “make the stores easier to run and free up associates so that they can interact with customers more and serve them better,” according to Lunberg. Walmart said in a statement that the laid-off employees are being offered other roles within the company that involve direct contact with shoppers, primarily in the online pick up department or in pharmacy. However, they aren’t guaranteed the same hourly wage. Walmart tested the idea at 50 locations earlier in the year, with only 1 percent of affected employees choosing to leave the company.
At the 46th annual shareholders meeting, Walmart President and CEO Doug McMillon outlined a number of measures to help the company compete with Amazon.com and other retailers cutting into its business. The company plans to expand its online presence, improve its online shopping system, make its delivery service faster, and make its apps and website more user-friendly. The retailer is testing drones to manage inventory at its large warehouses and is testing grocery home delivery service with ride-sharing services Uber, Lyft and Deliv. The company will also be opening about 405 Neighborhood Markets and Supercenters in lucrative locations globally in the upcoming fiscal year.
Walmart’s sales at U.S. stores in operation for over a year increased by 1 percent in the quarter that ended on April 30. This was the 7th consecutive quarter the company showed a slight increase in growth.