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Save Time with New Hires

new workerBringing new people onto the team can be a real source of frustration, however welcome they are and however needed. It takes time to recruit and hire, and then it takes more time to train and acculturate them.

There’s always time between when you hire someone and when they begin to give your company a return on your investment.

You can streamline the process of making new hires valuable with help from 8th & Walton. Our Basic Training classes bring your new people along more quickly than in-house training can, without pulling your experts away from their mission-critical tasks.

In fact, your rookies might come back to you with additional skills your veterans don’t have.

First, consider our three-day Rookie Orientation. We start with a tour of Store 101 that introduces the path products take from the truck to the register. We show your rookies how to assess their shelf space and the tell-tale signs they need to look for.

We share the history and culture of Walmart and Sam’s Club — and how they affect suppliers right now. We explain who all the players on the buying team are and how Walmart measures supplier performance.

We also introduce Retail Link, provide an overview of the supply chain, and much more. Our Walmart veterans provide expert knowledge and insights that let your new hires hit the ground running.

Not quite what you need? Choose among these helpful courses, or contact us to discuss custom training.


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3 Key Manufacturing Trends and 1 Good Example

Mike Waite, President, Menasha Packaging Jim Kotek, President and CEO, Menasha Corporation Colleen LeBeau, Lakeville City Council Member Matt Little, Mayor of Lakeville Greg Theis, Regional Vice President Katie Clark Sieben, Commissioner of the Department of Employment and Economic Development

L to R: Mike Waite, Jim Kotek, Colleen LeBeau, Matt Little, Greg Theis, Katie Clark Sieben

Menasha Packaging has been around for 165 years, and over that time they have developed a laser-like focus: to help their customers move, promote, and protect their products better than anyone else. Menasha produces corrugated and paperboard containers and displays as well as reusable plastic containers and more. Menasha is one of the nation’s largest family businesses, especially in the manufacturing space, and they employ more than 4400 people in over 75 facilities.

They’ve recently broken ground on a 126,000 square foot addition to their Lakeville, Minnesota plant. Additional space for kitting and fulfillment are planned, along with a rail dock and additional office space which will include a design center and an area designed for customer collaboration. It’s a $7,000,000 project that is expected to add new jobs for local workers and to bring the design, production, and fulfillment aspects of Menasha’s work under one roof for the first time.

The Menasha plant is a good example of a number of trends in manufacturing, and especially in packaging:

  • With new developments in technology, packaging can be highly automated. High levels of automation are allowing U.S. manufacturers to be very productive with fewer, better paid workers rather than relying on large numbers of entry-level workers. While American workers may not be able to compete with overseas workforces when it comes to entry-level labor, specialized workers and industrial automation together can make U.S.-made goods competitive with overseas goods.
  • Integrated processes, often called “connected engineering,” is a trend that takes advantage of new technologies to improve communication and turnaround. With faster communication and collaboration, even large companies like Menasha can be nimble in their responses to customers’ needs. Bringing all their divisions together at the Lakeville plant, along with expanded customer collaboration space,  is an excellent example of this exciting new trend in manufacturing.
  • The state of Minnesota is helping to support Menasha’s expansion with a new job growth initiative — and expecting a 16 to one ROI from their investment. Just as Walmart is supporting U.S. manufacturers and new technologies in manufacturing being developed at educational institutions, Minnesota’s support of Menasha reflects the increasing willingness of industry, education, and government to collaborate on manufacturing issues. Industry leaders have long said this is the key to increasing American manufacturing jobs.

Menasha works with food, OTC, personal care, household goods, and other CPG companies, including Walmart suppliers.

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On Shelf Availability

On Shelf Availability, or OSA< is one of the hottest issues in retail today. 8th & Walton media brought together a group of thought leaders in the retail space to get the view from the top — and in the trenches — on what affects OSA and how it can be improved.

The video above is 8th & Walton’s special on On Shelf Availability.

Bill Akins, SVP of Business Innovation at Rockfish is the moderator, with guests Mike Graen, VP of Collaboration at Rockfish; John Suchy, Director of Strategic Category Sales at Nestle; and Matt Waller, Chair of the Supply Chain Department at the Walton College of Business.

We’ve also put together an ebook for you to download and share with your team.osa-cover

Download the ebook!

One of the issues that came up in the discussion during 8th & Walton’s special episode on OSA is the connection between planning and execution.

More than one of the expert guests made the point that understanding the entire supply chain is critical to making the plans that will keep forecasting and replenishment on track

Matt Waller encouraged everyone to read an article from the Harvard Business Review called “Staple Yourself to an Order” and you can click through to read it for yourself. The authors pointed out that

to most senior executives, the details of the order management process are invisible. When managers take the time to track each step of the cycle, they come into contact with critical people like customer service representatives, production schedulers, order processors, and shipping clerks.

Waller gave the example of a hypothetical store that chooses to increase the amount of safety stock on the shelf. This seems as though it would do a lot to ensure OSA. However, it could also mean that the case no longer fits on the shelf. Associates might then choose to take the case to the back till it’s needed… and that’s the end of the safety stock.

John Suchy emphasized that OSA is “everybody’s job.” Planning is great, but execution makes the plans work. Suchy’s company, Nestle, uses algorithms to set automatic alerts that warn the company when they might be experiencing OSA issues. They can respond to these alerts with “boots on the floor” and add human judgement and follow-through.

Mike Graen says, “Walmart has a tremendous model, and there’s no way that everything can get done.” Suppliers have to expect to work collaboratively with the retailer to make sure that store-level execution meets expectations. Walmart’s SP* platform is a technology solution that helps make that kind of collaboration practical for smaller suppliers as well as the larger suppliers.

Watch the whole episode to get all the insights, and don’t forget to download the ebook!

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2014 Walmart U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund

innovationWalmart’s U.S. Manufacturing Innovation Fund seeks to help Walmart partner with nonprofits and universities to come up with innovative ways to make reshoring (bringing manufacturing back to the states) more practical.

The Fund focuses on large research projects, which it will support through grant funding. There are some specific challenges the Fund wants to work with:

  • Reducing the cost of producing textiles and apparel in the U.S.
  • Increasing efficiency in aspects of manufacturing with broad applications, such as small motor manufacturing and tooling for injection molding.

These are not the only projects the Fun plans to work with, but they will receive priority.

Last month the first grants in the program were announced at the Manufacturing Summit in Denver. $4 million was awarded to seven different research institutions:

  • Georgia Tech Research Corporation for new ideas in motion control based on thread count
  • Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis (IUPUI) for 3-D printing of metal parts used in tooling for injection molding of plastic
  • North Carolina State University College of Textiles for new ideas in producing furniture cushions
  • Oregon State University for innovative ideas for producing molds
  • Texas Tech University for biotech advances in cotton production and processing
  • University of Texas at Arlington for a system that will automate small motor production
  • University of Georgia Research Foundation for new low-water methods of dying textiles

The new ideas are not just innovative and potentially cost-saving, but in some cases have sustainability benefits as well.

Walmart plans to award a total of $10 million in grants over the next decade in an effort to support American manufacturing.

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10 Tips for Reaching Hispanic Shoppers – The Industry’s Weekly NewspaperInfographic: Latino Shoppers Blend Old Customs With New - Share This!
The Hispanic population in the U.S. is growing. Currently at 17% of total U.S. population, Hispanics could be one third of the U.S. population by mid-century if growth continues in its present trajectory.

While the main driver of growth is U.S.-born people rather than increasing immigration, there are still some statistical differences between Hispanic shoppers and the population as a whole.

  1. Among U.S. shoppers overall, 77% ask family members what they want as part of their planning process and 38% bring family members along when they shop. Among Hispanic shoppers, 91% ask what family members want and 61% shop with one or more family members. It makes sense to appeal to kids and men when targeting this demographic — it’s not all about the busy mom stopping at the grocery after work.
  2. Hispanic shoppers are more likely than the general population to shop for cleaning supplies and beauty products at Walmart. Mass market retailers are the first choice for more Hispanic shoppers for these products.
  3. Hispanic shoppers are more likely to own a smartphone than the population as a whole, and they’re using tech tools to shop more often than the national average. Omnichannel shopping is the new normal, and Hispanics shouldn’t be ignored when you plan your digital presence.
  4. Fresh produce ends up in the baskets of Hispanic shoppers more than for the average U.S. shopper. Tying in other items or even providing an abundant visual display can benefit non-fresh products.
  5. Shopping is more likely to be a social experience for Hispanic shoppers compared with the population as a whole. That means that friendly store associates matter, but it can also mean using social media — Hispanic shoppers are more receptive to ads in social media than the average, and more likely to turn to social media for help with shopping decisions.
  6. Bringing family along, enjoying interactions with store personnel, and making shopping into a social event sound like fun? It’s true: Hispanic shoppers are more likely to say they enjoy shopping and to consider the fun quotient of a shopping experience important. In-store experiences can work well with this demographic.
  7. Hispanics are more likely to write brand names on their shopping lists and to choose major national brands. Programs intended to increase brand loyalty may work well with this population.
  8. Coupons, including in-store promotions, also do well with this population. In line with findings that they view shopping as a social, family, fun experience, Hispanic shoppers are more likely to make impulse purchases even though they tend to shop with a list.
  9. Hispanic Americans are a diverse population. On a local level, distinctions among different Hispanic groups are important. On the other hand, younger U.S.-born Hispanics don’t respond as well to the idea of being marketed to as Hispanics. Demonstrating an understanding of and respect for cultural difference is positive, but “total marketing” is a growing trend.
  10. There are also differences in shopping behavior between Hispanics born abroad and those born in the U.S. It’s worth the time to research a region and see whether the Hispanic population is newly arrived or well established.

Our Store of the Community Analysis class can help you find and make best use of the data about your Hispanic customers.

Posted in Supplier tips | Leave a comment

5 Top Tips for Hispanic Heritage Month

hispanic-heritage-consumerHispanic Heritage Month takes place from September 15 to October 15 each year, encompassing several days that are special to various Latino cultures.

For Walmart suppliers, this is an opportunity to reach out to the 52,000,000+ Latinos living in the U.S. However, it’s easy to put a foot wrong with the observation.

  • Most Hispanic consumers don’t observe Hispanic Heritage Month in any way that involves shopping — no special meals or parties, for example — according to a Nielsen study. However, 73% feel that it is very important or extremely important for businesses to make the effort to honor the contributions of Hispanic Americans. Promotions and displays should therefore focus more on this aspect of the month.
  • A Puerto Rican shopper said, “I HATE Hispanic Heritage Month! It’s when we all become Mexican.” He was making a joke, but he has a point. Mexican Americans are the largest Hispanic population in the U.S., but we also have individuals whose heritage stems from El Salvador, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Cost Rica, Honduras… A piñata will not serve as a perfect symbol of Hispanic Heritage Month in every Hispanic community. Since SOTC reports don’t distinguish among different groups of Hispanic consumers, it’s worth doing some research.
  • Individual consumers may not be picking up extra aguas frescas for Hispanic Heritage Month, but employers and teachers probably are. Direct some of the promotions toward the businesses, schools, and public organizations that celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. For these consumers, who may not be Hispanic, special displays or promotions can provide some needed help in organizing an appropriate lunchroom, break room, or classroom celebration.
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Mike Duke’s 3 Lessons of Leadership

Leading Through Adversity: Mike DukeLast week Jeff Clapper of 8th & Walton was among a small group of supplier community leaders with whom Mike Duke to shared his thoughts on what makes a great leader.

Mr. Duke’s three keys to great leadership:

Be an agent of change. Sam Walton was not afraid of change — it’s how he revolutionized retail. When he saw France’s Carrefour’s hypermarché stores during a tour of Europe in the 1980s, he got the idea to combine groceries and general merchandise under one roof, at a deep discount. he called the stores  “Hypermart USA” and launched with four stores, which Mr. Duke said lost more than any four stores in the history of Walmart.

But the knowledge gained through that experience led to the Supercenter

Many of us resist change. Mr. Duke says we should encourage it. We need to make sure that our companies have a culture that celebrates change and that our people are not afraid to fail. Learn from the mistakes as well as the successes that can only be found in change.

Focus on the people. As Walmart’s CEO, David Glass told Lee Scott that although he was doing a great job leading Logistics, he couldn’t be promoted without a successor. Glass advised Scott to invest in recruiting and developing great people, at which point Mr. Duke was recruited to the company. About 90 days later, Glass called and asked if he was ready to lead Logistics. Because Scott had invested in developing a great team, the organization benefited from the promotions of Scott, Duke, and many others.

Focusing on your team includes both recruiting and developing. Hire the right people and invest in growing them, through professional development and training. The whole company will win.

Be worthy of trust. Mr. Duke said that he always enjoyed visiting with Walmart’s drivers, because the drivers would invariably give him the straight, unfiltered truth. On one such visit, a driver criticized a manager for having no integrity, and talked about an occasion when that manager had been disrespectful to another driver. In seeing that this had made an impact on the driver, Mr. Duke asked when the incident had occurred, to which the driver answered, “two years ago”.

“Integrity is measured by your lowest moment,” Mr. Duke said. “You can’t take the average. It’s not like retail sales, where we can say, ‘Last week was low, but this week we’re up, so on average, we’re doing alright.’”

Mr. Duke said that a leader could come back from a low moment, but only if the leader apologizes for the mistake and has a willingness to accept the consequences of his actions. This sets the stage for rebuilding the trust that is vital to a group’s success. The manager whose disrespectful behavior was remembered by the driver didn’t step up in that way. He might have thought his behavior would be forgotten, but it stayed on the driver’s mind for years.

The bigger the leadership role, the more important trust becomes.

8th & Walton offers leadership courses that will help you think about your own leadership role more deeply.

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Sustainability, Business, and the Red Queen Effect

The Red Queen, in Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There, told Alice that she couldn’t stand still — she had to run as fast as she could just to stay where she was. “Now, here, you see,” she told Alice, “it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

Biologist Leigh Van Valen thought of the Red Queen when he developed a statement about evolution: no matter how well a species has adapted to its current environment, it must continue to evolve because its competitors in its space are also evolving. There is no point at which it is secure enough to rest on its laurels and feel confident that it has conquered its environmental niche.

Many people have seen a similarity in business, and Jeff Amerine described sustainability, in the most recent episode of 8th & Walton’s Saturday Morning Meeting, as a “Red Queen problem.” Suppliers, in other words, have to keep innovating and improving in order to be in as good a position tomorrow as they are in today.

Jeff Amerine spoke with The Sustainability Consortium‘s Dr. Jon Johnson and Dr. Sarah Lewis. TCS, pronounced “tissy,” is working on a Sustainability Measurement and Reporting System (SMRS), a framework which will allow consistent communication within and among industries.

Currently, there is no common, agreed upon way to measure and discuss sustainability. Different groups will assign different levels of importance to various aspects of sustainability and there are no shared benchmarks suppliers can use to judge their progress.

This can lead to greenwashing, accusations of greenwashing, and plain old confusion on the part of consumers and suppliers alike. The lack of consistent measurement and language makes it hard to compare one product with another or to identify points along the supply chain where meaningful change can be made.

“I think companies should expect to have more conversations with buyers at Walmart and other retailers around sustainability,” says Johnson.

Having useful conversations requires a shared language and a shared understanding of sustainability issues, and that is where TSC comes in. “The tools that TSC develops are based in lifecycle assessment and are being used to really improve that decision making capability,” Lewis points out.  “What issues should I focus on? Where can I make improvements? What practices can I implement to really create efficiency — but also to be able to communicate progress and really market that progress to customers?”

Listen to the entire conversation, plus much more, by watching the video above or enjoying the podcast below.


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Work is a Beautiful Thing

Walmart’s “Work is Beautiful” campaign ranges from individuals like Patrick to Walmart’s Made in America initiatives. Mike Rowe narrated one in the character of an American factory looking forward to the U.S. manufacturing renaissance: “We will build things, and build families, and build dreams. It’s time to get back to what America does best. Because work is a beautiful thing.”

12 million people watched the video above on YouTube in the first week; presumably, people also saw it on TV without having to seek it out. The focus on an individual with disabilities excited nonprofits and individuals, and discussions of the commercial filled more than a million web pages.

The ad campaign stirred up some controversy. There were those who called it hypocritical for Walmart to champion American factories when low price emphasis was one of the things that led to the prevalence of foreign-made goods, and those who saw “Work is Beautiful” as a reminder that poorly paid jobs were better than none. But most responses to the ads were positive. Some commentators said that their opinions of Walmart had been changed for the better by the ads. One headline read, “‘Work is a beautiful thing': Powerful 60 second video renews Americans’ pride.”

The campaign, from Saatchi & Saatchi, was certainly high in quality and the stories presented are touching. It may be that the reason this campaign fared so well is that it resonates with basic American values: hard work, independence, and taking the initiative.

Walmart culture fits well with American values. The “Work is a Beautiful Thing” ads reminded Americans of that fact.

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Meeting Consumers Where They Are

shopperFor years, we’ve envisioned customers in the store, roaming the aisles, perusing the messages we prepare for them on the shelves. Our message has been crafted by us and our competitors — our neighbors on the shelf — and by the retailers we work with. It has been shared through cardboard, paper, and plastic, with a bit of word of mouth thrown in. We’ve broadcast it on TV and radio and printed it in magazines and newspaper supplements, but we’ve generally had control of it.

Times have changed. If your customers are small business owners shopping at Sam’s Club, they have all these electronic devices (Small Business Tech Survey):

  • 87% have desktop computers.
  • 84% have laptops.
  • 74% have smartphones.
  • Only 55% have cell phones other than smartphones.
  • Only 41% use tablets for business.
  • Only 78% use landlines — still more than smartphones, but wouldn’t we have expected 100% not long ago?

70% of these business customers say that technology is very important in the success of their companies. 85% buy supplies online.

Are your customers family shoppers in Walmart? Here’s how they use technology (UPS study):

  • 61% prefer to research purchase decisions online via a desktop computer, plus another 21% prefer to use a mobile device — only 13% would rather research in a store. (A few people use other methods.)
  • 55% prefer to shop online, no matter where they research products.
  • 25% of mobile users search for information before they shop every week.
  • Only 21% both research and shop in physical stores.
  • Only 40% of consumers who research purchases online start their searches at a store’s websites.

In short, we can no longer work with that mental image of the shopper in the store reading the message we’ve put on our packages.

We have to think about the shopper in the store checking online reviews. The shopper at work researching products over lunch before coming to the store to pick up a decided-upon purchase. The shopper browsing information provided by bloggers and social media friends before making on online purchase.

Is your strategy including all these shoppers? Are you getting your message to them where they are? Check out our Selling to Walmart classes to hone your skills.

Posted in Supplier Development | Leave a comment