Holy Smiley Face! Walmart brings back greeters
Back in 2012, I wrote that Sam Walton had to be turning over in his grave over the news that Walmart had decided to remove greeters from chain’s store lobbies. Mr. Sam can now safely turn back over. Walmart has announced that greeters will move to the front lobby in roughly two-thirds of its stores after a pilot found their presence made shoppers feel welcomed.
The company is also adding the new position of customer hosts who fulfill the traditional role of a greeter with the added responsibility in many locations of deterring thieves from walking merchandise out of the store.
A post on the official Walmart blog said a test the company ran last year moved employees from the action alley area near the checkout back to the front door. Customers were happy to be able to easily find someone (associates wear yellow vests) to help them with questions, assist with returns and keep entrances clean.
Greeters, the blog post acknowledged, are “a big part” of Walmart’s company and its culture and that’s why the company intends to keep them in a majority of its locations.
Customer hosts will be deployed in stores where the chain’s data points to higher risks for safety issues, security and shrink. Walmart said it expects to fill about 9,000 new hourly host positions with workers “specially trained to both welcome customers as soon as they walk in and also help deter would-be shoplifters.”
In stores that need customer hosts instead of greeters, Walmart will give affected associates the option of applying for the new (apparently higher paying) positions. During the pilot phase, Walmart found 80 percent of associates affected were able to find new jobs within the company, with an unspecified percent being promoted. Those who were not able to make the transition from greeter to host or some other position were offered severance.
- Offering customers more at the door – Walmart
- Wal-Mart Stores Inc brings back its iconic greeters to help deter theft – Bloomberg/Financial Post
- Walmart welcomes back its greeters, sort of – RetailWire
- Walmart greeters get new assignment – RetailWire
Do you think Walmart greeters and customer hosts will have a bigger impact on improving the shopping experience or reducing shrink? Are you concerned at all about Walmart combining the traditional welcoming role of a greeter with the anti-theft responsibilities that typically go to security personnel?