Will customer hosts raise the shopping experience bar at Walmart?
The news last month that Walmart had decided to eliminate the greeter position at more than 1,000 stores created some controversy for the retailer when it was learned that the change could put older workers and those with disabilities out of jobs. The chain reacted to the pushback with an announcement that it would do its best to accommodate workers, many who had been with Walmart for years, with suitable jobs in other positions in stores.
The other side to this news was that Walmart will add customer hosts positions at the stores where greeters were being eliminated. The responsibilities of hosts go well beyond what was expected of greeters — cart runs, cleaning up spills and being able to lift items that weigh up to 25 pounds are part of their job description.
Customer hosts will also be positioned right inside a store’s doors to process product returns and issue refunds, including cash to customers. The goal is to eliminate the need for customers to wait in long lines at store service desks by giving hosts the tech they need to handle returns.
Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran, who made the announcement at the UBS Global Consumer and Retail Conference on March 6, did not provide a timeline on when Walmart would begin using host to process returns.
The added duties for hosts is part of the retailer’s broader efforts to become a more convenient shopping destination for customers, reports Business Insider. This includes a variety of online ordering store pickup options and the ability for employees to check customers out using mobile devices.
- Walmart wants to eliminate one of the biggest frustrations with returns – Business Insider
- Walmart says ‘goodbye’ to greeters and ‘hello’ to controversy – RetailWire
- A Note from Greg Foran to Walmart Stores Regarding People Greeter Changes – Walmart
- Holy Smiley Face! Walmart brings back greeters – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Practically speaking, how do you expect Walmart to handle product returns using customer hosts? Do you expect it to be an improvement over customers making returns to service desks?