Walmart To Keep More Merchandise In Warehouses, Less In Stores

Retailers’ goal is to sell to us all “omnichannel,” selling to customers across platforms. When Walmart’s profits fell this quarter, the company promised shareholders a money-saving change that makes them seem cool and omnichannel: they’re keeping more of certain merchandise in distribution and less in stores, saving the expense of shipping and stocking items, and selling them online instead.

These items are still available to Walmart customers: they just have to order them online for delivery either to a nearby store or to their doorstep. If they have their purchases shipped to the store, maybe while they’re in the building, they’ll pick up some orange juice, a pack of socks, and an armful of frozen dinners. Only one of those items could have been ordered online from the distribution center.

Nobody asked us, but maybe if Walmart had less shelf space taken up with video games from 2007 and digital cameras old enough to attend middle school, they would have plenty of space in every store to stock everything. It’s not just about shelf space, of course: the Wall Street Journal reminds sad customers that keeping items in distribution centers instead of stocking them in every Wally World saves staff time, when merchandise doesn’t move until it’s actually purchased.

While store employees do fetch and ship items from Walmart store shelves, it’s more efficient to do so from a dedicated distribution center.

Wal-Mart Reins Back Inventory in a Revamped Supply Chain [Wall Street Journal]

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