September 10, 2012
We’ve all seen the tweets about the checkout lines at Wal-mart: “Walmart usually uses 4 checkouts. Unless it’s really busy then they use 1.” Inevitably, you always end up in the slowest line, behind the woman who waits until her groceries are all rung up before she starts digging in her handbag for her fossilized checkbook. Are you thinking there ought to be an app for that? Don’t worry. It’s on the way.
An article at Reuters says, “Wal-Mart Stores Inc (WMT.N) is testing a system that would allow shoppers to scan items using their iPhones and then pay at a self-checkout counter, a move that could trim checkout times and slash costs for retailers.”
According to Wal-Mart’s Chief Financial Officer Charles M. Holley Jr., we’d all be doing Wal-Mart a tremendous favor if we each bought an Apple iPhone – which they’ll soon be carrying at a Wal-Mart near you – and started scanning our own groceries with the soon-to-be-introduced app. Oh, and while we’re at it, if we could bag them while we’re at it, that would be an even bigger help.
You see, Wal-Mart could save $12 million a year for every second they can cut out of the average checkout time. And, since their second quarter profits were only $4 billion, well, surely you can see they’re about to go under, right?
Mr. Holley Jr. blames Wal-Mart’s poor second quarter showing on the economy saying, “I don’t think the economy’s helping us. Customers are still very concerned about employment, gas prices and food inflation.” And let’s not forget the fact that all those online companies like Amazon and Ebay have an unfair advantage over the Big Box retailer: They don’t have to charge the consumer an online sales tax, so of course they’re stealing business away from Wal-Mart.
There’s no mention in the Reuter’s article of what Wal-Mart intends to do with this $12 million per second savings but apparently they’re not going to waste it on silly little things like fair wages or clean drinking water for their associates.
Only one month after Mr. Holley Jr. bemoaned the fact that Wal-Mart only made $4 billion during the previous three months, “a complaint was filed with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health or CAL/OSHA against Walmart by its warehouse workers who suffered from a series of workplace violations including underpayment of wages, unsafe moving quotas and no access to clean drinking water.”
And to add insult to injury, just two days ago a group of investors filed suit against Wal-Mart claiming mismanagement of their pension funds with regard to the Mexican bribery allegations leveled against the chain. In all, 10 pension funds involved including the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, the Police Pension Fund, the Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System, all in New York. The combined value of the retirement funds is more thatn $122 billion.
One can only hope that Wal-Mart somehow manages to recover from this series of unfortunate events.