Tag Archive | "Walmart"

Walmart experimental WAVE truck is energy efficient

Walmart-Wave-truck

Walmart, love them or hate them, is a leader in energy efficiency and reducing waste. They do this because it saves money. Their new WAVE truck (Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience) weighs two tons less than comparable semis, has superb aerodynamics, and a turbine engine. They want to double big rig MPG to 10, saving potentially $25,000 per year per truck. They have 6,500 big rigs in their fleet so the potential savings is $162,5000 a year (plus a whole lot less pollutants in the air.)

The Walmart Advanced Vehicle Experience, or WAVE, concept truck is the latest in our fleet efficiency program. The one-of-a-kind prototype offers a whole package of firsts. The tractor has very advanced aerodynamics and is powered by a prototype advanced turbine-powered, range-extending series hybrid powertrain. The trailer is made almost exclusively with carbon fiber, saving around 4,000 pounds which can then be used to carry more freight.

Posted in Energy conservation

Walmart shoots self in foot, keeps shelves empty to save money

daffy_duck_gold

Walmart shelves are increasingly empty with the predictable result that customers are going elsewhere, to Target and Costco. Oh, the goods are in the stores but are piling up in the back. The problem is Walmart won’t hire enough employees to keep shelves restocked. In the past five years the numbers of employees at Walmart has dropped 1.4% while the number of US stores has increased 13%. For a supposedly savvy retailer, Walmart is shooting itself in the foot.

Target and Costco aren’t making these greedy short-sighted mistakes. Walmart’s big pitch is their low prices. Yet Target matches them on price now. Here in Silicon Valley, both Walmart stores do indeed have conspicuously numbers of empty shelves. Checkout lines are long. It’s not fun to shop there. By contrast, Target is clean, efficiently run, has much shorter lines, and shelves are full.

“We’re not getting as many sales because there’s simply no one to help the customers throughout the stores,” said Jackson, 24, who has worked at two Wal-Mart stores since 2009. “I asked, ‘Why can’t we have enough hours to make the store work?’ They said, ‘It’s orders from Home Office,’” she said.

Here in California, the venerable and iconic Trader Joe’s continues to thrive no matter what the competition. They have their niche and hugely loyal customers. One reason is the friendly service. You can always quickly find an Trader Joe’s employee if you have a question or need to find something. Too often at Walmart, there are simply no employees to be found. That’s the difference.

Posted in News

Walmart February sales a “total disaster”, says leaked emails

Comment on Zero Hedge

Comment on Zero Hedge

Walmart February sales are the worst since 2007, say Walmart executives in leaked emails blaming expiration of payroll tax cuts and lateness of income tax refunds (due to our paralyzed Congress) as primary reasons.

“In case you haven’t seen a sales report these days, February MTD sales are a total disaster,” Jerry Murray, Wal- Mart’s vice president of finance and logistics, said in a Feb. 12 e-mail to other executives, referring to month-to-date sales. “The worst start to a month I have seen in my ~7 years with the company.”

Some are a bit skeptical of these reports. However, they were from leaked emails so presumably the execs were being honest with each other. Thus this doesn’t seem to be a political ploy. Rising gas prices and stealth inflation could easily also be factors.

Walmart is the 800 pound gorilla of retail. For them to have sudden, unexpected bad sales is a bad harbinger. We have a Congress that appears incapable of doing much of anything and Obama has done little to help the economy at large. So maybe the Walmart news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise after all.

Posted in News

The behemoth that is Walmart. Maybe it is evil

Doug Henwood continues the discussion, making the cogent point that while Walmart wages may be average for retail, that Walmart has played a major role in lowering wages and cutting benefits. Because of their size, they set wages as well as prices.

By lowering the cost of the bare minimum, Walmart makes it a lot easier for all employers to pay less. That brings a smile to the faces of stockholders, of course, but no so much the average worker.

Walmart is the 800 lb. gorilla of retail, so they get the focus. If Walmart raises wages then the prices they charge will also increase, something which will hurt their low-income shoppers. If your family earns $25,000 a year, then saving $20 a week on food by shopping at Walmart is not trivial.

Walmart could raise wages and not raise prices, cutting their profit margins. However, this could well cause shareholder lawsuits.The underlying problem is that we have a predatory economic system based solely on maximizing profits which gives no thought to the health of the system overall.

Posted in News

The behemoth that is Walmart. Maybe not evil

Peter Suderman at Reason tweeted several counters to the progressive view that Walmart is inherently evil. Business Insider has posted them. I tend to agree. Walmart is so freaking huge that no matter what they do, it will have consequences. They currently emphasize renewable energy, cutting waste in packaging, and put compact florescent light bulbs into the mainstream – all of which can be considered progressive They also pay crappy and have lousy benefits. As do many other retailers.

We recently lived in Cedar City UT for two years. Without a Walmart there, goods and food would be much harder to find, and much more expensive. Plus, when a Walmart comes to a town of 30,000, Home Depot usually does do, and that helps even more.

And you can’t beat Walmart’s prices. Really. For example, to a family of four living on $25,000 a year or less, spending $25 less on groceries a week is a serious big deal.

Obama advisor Jason Furman:

A range of studies has found that Wal-Mart’s prices are 8 percent to 39 percent below the prices of its competitors.

That’s a huge savings for households in the bottom quintile, which, on average, spend 26 percent of their income on food. In fact, it is equivalent to a 6.5 percent boost in household income.

I am also upset by the rise of inequality and the relatively slow economic progress that the bottom 80 percent of Americans have made over the last several decades. I just think Wal-Mart is the wrong place to put the blame or to expect the solution.

Posted in News

WalMart is the Titanic and Mexican bribery its iceberg

Savvy thoughts from the Phoenix Principle. Walmart is a dinosaur that can not or will not change.

WalMart’s industrial strategy is similar to the Titanic strategy. Build a boat so big it can’t sink. And if any retailer could be that big, then WalMart was it. But these scandals keep showing us that the water is increasingly full of icebergs. Each scandal points out that WalMart’s strategy is harder to navigate, and is running into big problems. Even though the damage isn’t visible to most of us, it is nonetheless clear to WalMart executives that doing more of the same is leading to less good results. WalMart is taking on water, and it has no solution.

Posted in News

Walmart makes huge move into social media / mobile

The tagline of @WalmartLabs is “Social + Mobile + Retail” and it’s an indicator of where Walmart wants to go with the [Kosmix semantic web] technology it acquired. Walmart wants to tap into social data – for example from Twitter – and entice mobile phone toting customers to its stores. Walmart also wants to beef up its online operations, traditionally a laggard compared to Amazon.com.

Walmart sees the future of retail, and it is mobile devices and social media. They paid $300 million for Kosmix and plan to incorporate it into their business DNA. Walmart was the company that mainstreamed CFL bulbs. They may well do the same for social media and mobile devices.

WalmartLabs

Posted in News

There are reasons Walmart is so big

Here’s one example. I upgraded my iPhone 3GS to an iPhone 4 at an Apple Store in Las Vegas. However, they were out of clear plastic protecters for the screen. A nearby Best Buy didn’t have them either. A search online found some, and pricing was generally about $18 for a package of three (the same as Apple and Best Buy) although some were much more.

Finally, I went to the Cedar City UT Walmart on a whim, assuming they couldn’t possibly have them if the Apple store and Best Buy didn’t. Wrong. Not only did Walmart have them, their price was $9 for three.

Coincidentally, Ritholtz discusses The New Capitalist Manifesto: Building a Disruptively Better Business by Umair Haque (and embeds the first chapter) which mentions Walmart, among others.

Haque discusses slowing growth in developed countries, a shift he terms far more significant than any crisis or crash. In these mature economies, disruptive technologies are what will thrive in the 21st century.

The key is the development of “philosophies” that create value rather than “strategies” that extract value.

The book describes some of the surprising companies embracing this: Walmart (sustainability), Nike (design principles to reduce waste and maximize recycling), Lego (Crowd sourcing), Google (liberating data), Tata (new category of car) Apple (new categories of gadgets) Nintendo’s Wii (new form of video games)

Umair seeks to provoke the thought process, challenge your complacency, stimulate your creativity.

Disruptive technologies are of equal importance in a socialist or semi-socialist economy too.

PS Walmart announces healthy food initiatives. They plan to decrease the cost of healthy food and make it more available, reduce salt by 10%, sugar by 25%, and eliminate industrial trans fats in their foods by 2015. Because they have such huge buying power, suppliers who want their food in Walmart will comply.

They also are adamant about cutting down the amount of packaging in products and played a major role in making compact florescent  light bulbs a mainstream product.

(Yes, I know their health care plans for employees are inadequate and that they think unions are the anti-Christ.)

Posted in News

Homeland Security and Walmart join on national informer’s campaign

The U.S. Homeland Security Department said Monday its “If You See Something, Say Something” campaign has been expanded to Walmart stores across the country” after starting in the New York City MTA. Imagine my excitement.

Dale Sommers just said on his Roaddog Trucking talk show (Sirius 147), it’s guaranteed someone will be walking down the street, ask a 7 yo girl for directions, then someone will decide he could be a terrorist or pedophile and report him, where he will languish in detention for a while.

He also said asking Walmart customers to be alert for terrorism is dumb because most of them (and us) have no idea what to look for and have no training.

He calls himself “The Truckin’ Bozo” but is anything but. This is also true of most of the talk shows on Road Dog Trucking, high quality and intelligent. Seriously.

I’m undecided as the whether this is just another HSA overkill clusterfuck or a deliberate attempt to scare, intimidate, and monitor us. However, since one should “never attribute to malice that which can be adequately explained by stupidity,” I’ll go with the clusterfuck.

This plan is really quite condescending, isn’t it? Like most of us don’t already have the smarts to call authorities if we spotted some genuinely suspicious? I would. I bet you would too. Besides, if HSA genuinely wants help from the citizenry, it should tell us what to look for.

Posted in News

Does Walmart’s sustainability initiative signal the end of greenwashing?

greenwashing

CleanTechnica thinks it could
, given the broad-based coalition Walmart has assembled plus their enormous clout in the marketplace means they can mandate that changes be made.

But what drives Walmart’s decisions around sustainability are these three goals:

1. To be supplied by 100% by renewable energy
2. To create zero waste
3. To sell products that sustain our resources and environment

Walmart already mandates that suppliers meet certain criteria in the products and packaging. Now they plan a full life-cycle analysis of all products they sell, to be stored in a database on an open platform. In other words, full transparency. And that could mean no more greenwashing for consumer products.

Posted in News


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