RETAIL NEWS

Walmart grants $4M to the Colorado Workforce Development Council

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is partnering with Colorado to empower retail workers.

The discount giant announced more than $4 million in support of the Colorado Workforce Development Council, or CWDC. It is Walmart’s first grant to a state government to support workforce development and will help provide retail advancement opportunities through training and up-skilling.

The grant will allow the CWDC to partner with local workforce development boards across Colorado to launch 10 new retail sector partnerships. Through each of these public-private partnerships, representatives from workforce boards, economic development and education will work with retail employers in the community to design upskilling and training programs that support career advancement for frontline workers and can be a model for workforce development organizations across the U.S. to follow.

The funding comes at a time when there are estimated five million unfilled jobs in the U.S., but 24 million frontline workers who might be able to fill these jobs if given the opportunity to develop advanced training, according to UpSkill America. By improving the quality of skills training and increasing opportunities for advancement, retail jobs can be a powerful engine for economic mobility.

This support for the CWDC is part of Walmart and the Walmart Foundation’s five-year, $100 million Retail Opportunity Initiative, a philanthropic initiative aimed at making it easier for frontline employees in retail and adjacent sectors to gain new skills and advance in their careers. To date, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have funded more than $80 million in grants designed to increase the economic mobility of retail and related-sector workers.

“Our support of the Colorado Workforce Development Council is a further step in our efforts to strengthen the workforce ecosystem beyond Walmart’s walls through collaboration with public and private sector leaders,” said Julie Gehrki, VP of philanthropy at Walmart.

The CWDC and sector partnerships will aim to train incumbent workers through Walmart’s funding, as well as share best practices for building retail career pathways and upskilling workers through the development of a “how-to” guide that will be shared statewide. The statewide expansion builds on the success of the Denver Retail Sector Partnership, convened by the Denver Office of Economic Development. The industry-led partnership focused on workforce as a key issue in 2016 and 2017 and provided skills training, work experience and paid youth pre-apprenticeships through a previous Walmart grant.

Through the Retail Opportunity Initiative, Walmart also recently announced nearly $4 million in grants to the Foundation for California Community Colleges, Code for America Labs, Inc. and edX.org to help provide workers access to education, training and skills to create innovative pathways for lifelong learning.

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Giant Food unveils store expansion, improvement plans

BY Marianne Wilson

Giant Food is upgrading its store experience.

The supermarket retailer announced a $175 million capital investment into expansion and improvement over the next two years. The investment includes one new store and 24 remodels. These efforts are in addition to the recently announced $21 million investment into a new location in Olney, Md., set to to open in spring 2019.

“We look forward to updating and enhancing our existing stores and constructing both new and replacement locations to give our shoppers a fresh and imaginative selection, unique in-store experiences and superior customer service,” said Gordon Reid, president, Giant Food, Landover, Md., which operates 164 supermarkets in Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, and the District of Columbia.

The new store will be located in Fairfax Circle, Va. Giant opened two new stores in Virginia — in the towns of Herndon and Alexandria — earlier this month.

Giant’s upgrade efforts will include remodeling 24 store locations to feature new amenities such as enhanced perishable, produce, beer, wine and spirits offerings, full-service florists, expanded natural and organic departments, hot Asian food bars, fresh squeezed juice bars, enhanced check-out zones, full-service pharmacies and more.

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Walmart intros employee-based app to help shoppers order items

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

A new app enables Walmart associates to place online orders for customers — directly from store aisles.

Walmart on Tuesday introduced a new employee-based app designed to save the sale. Internally known as “Dotcom Store,” the app enables customers to work with associates to order items that may not be available on store shelves, as well as pay for merchandise.

Here’s how it works: Using the app, which is downloaded on a mobile device, associates can look up out-of-stock merchandise. (The app is directly integrated to Walmart’s e-commerce site.) Customers can choose to have the item shipped to their home or delivered to the store for free, and the associate will print a receipt or send an email that must be presented at any register in the store, according to a blog on Walmart’s website.

Customers pay for orders using cash, check (a new option), credit card or Walmart Pay, a mobile wallet that stores customers’ preferred gift, debit and credit cards, and enables them to pay through their device.

“This new app connects our stores and Walmart.com to enable a new, convenient service, and it’s also the latest in a series of apps associates now have to help them serve customers even better,” the blog reported.

Walmart’s other custom-built employee apps include PlanIT, which keeps associates up-to-date on company and store announcements; the Receiving App that reveals which products have just arrived at the store, and the Downstock App that keeps associates abreast of merchandise available on store shelves, according to separate blog on Walmart’s website.

Walmart’s Price Change app delivers information about necessary product price updates. It also categorizes them by aisle so associates receive them in the order they should be made, creating an efficient path through the store.

An Availability app gives associates insight into how their store is performing over time, including when out-of-stocks occur. Meanwhile, the Sales app updates a store’s sales numbers in real time so that associates know how their designated areas are performing against the previous year, down to specific products.

“[The] suite of custom-built apps for associates … allows them to manage a variety of routine activities directly from a mobile store device. From the moment a product arrives in the back room to the second a customer finds it on the shelf, an ecosystem of data gives associates new visibility that helps them make informed decisions quickly, thus allowing them to take on more ownership of their work,” according to Walmart.

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