Everyone has ideas, and at Walmart International, I’m lucky to be surrounded by amazing people with ideas that help make our business better. But these ideas are only valuable if they turn into actions.
Every year at our annual Shareholders Meeting, I’m inspired to meet some of our most innovative associates who are actively working to benefit our customers and our stores. This year, these three stories stood out for me.
Not only are our associates creative, they also demonstrate tremendous integrity. In our store in Sarnia, Canada, a couple was shopping for Christmas gifts to give their grandchildren. At the register, the couple couldn’t find the envelope of cash they’d saved to buy the presents. Disappointed, the couple feared the money was gone.
The couple was thrilled when
Ephie Smith, a morning cashier, found the money and turned it in. When offered
a reward, Ephie responded, “I don’t need a reward. I just hope you have a good
Christmas.” I’m sure Ephie was the talk of their Christmas dinner. Great job,
One thing I’ve learned in my years as a retailer is that more often than not, the simplest solution is the best solution. I’m all for a no-fuss, uncomplicated, let’s get the job done approach.
A few years ago at our United Kingdom retailer Asda, our customers rated us last when it came to a quick and easy checkout experience. We began investing in checkout line-busting technology, but a quicker fix was just around the corner – thanks to one of our innovative associates. In our Nuneaton, England, store, our associate Paul Hedley had the simple but effective idea to use a sign shaped like a finger, which acts as a traffic control management system to help guide customers to empty checkouts and the shortest line. The results were dramatic: Within three short months, customers reported that line service at Asda was ranked first place.
Regrettably, Paul passed away last year as a result of a long-term illness, but his creativity and problem solving left a wonderful legacy: Today, the low-tech pointy stick is being introduced in other Walmart markets around the world.
And at Walmart India, associates are improving the lives of others. Deepak Gandhi, along with team members Abhay and Anoop, was inspired by the Society for Child Development’s “Trash to Cash” initiative, which provides opportunities for differently-abled women and men while creating consumer products from waste. The group collects old flowers from temples and hotels, and creates organic colored powder solutions, Gulal, used to celebrate Holi — one of the most popular festivals in India. Our initial order for one ton of “Holi Herbal Gulal” helped provide a livelihood for 45 women with disabilities.
The program grew 150% in 2013 alone, and has been so successful that the Department of Environment in Delhi now supports the initiative and provides vans for collection of waste flowers. As part of Walmart’s commitment to Women’s Economic Empowerment, Abhay and Anoop have provided guidance to SFCD Director Madhumita Puri for the last three years, helping to strengthen the organization, increase its capacity and expand product offerings. Hats off to Deepak, Abhay and Anoop.
At Walmart, there’s no doubt our associates are an integral part of our global success. They make us a better business. While Shareholders Week is an official financial meeting, my favorite bit is getting to meet our associates from all over the world who show creativity, integrity and dedication to helping others—it is a privilege to work with all of you.
Interested in joining our team of 2.2 million Walmart
associates around the world? Check out our latest job opportunities here.