‘Every Day Is Frightening’: Working For Walmart Amid Covid-19 Crisis
Enlarge this image toggle caption Jeff Chiu/AP Jeff Chiu/AP
It’s been about 11 days since Walmart’s Sam’s Club opened its doors to customers, on March 23, when an influx of shoppers began to arrive. Some were able to make it to the store, but many faced long lines to pick up their orders and were left waiting for their groceries.
Over the following days and weeks, as the number of new cases in the U.S. began to rise, many of the members of Sam’s Club, a Walmart subsidiary, who had come to Walmart’s locations across the country and opened their wallets, found their way to Sam’s Club’s online service to get their orders.
It turned out that Sam’s Club was the second-fastest-growing retailer in the U.S., but because of the coronavirus pandemic, its growth in the retail market has slowed.
As the virus spread to more and more people, Sam’s Club has been forced to shift its online order system to other online orders, which don’t have to go through Sam’s Club stores and have other benefits, like a guarantee that the customer will receive the items in the days or weeks after the order.
But with the coronavirus outbreak, now nearly a month old, Sam’s Club is having to make its own decisions. And it’s going to have to make them much more rapidly than it would have otherwise.
“It’s an unprecedented time for a company. This is the first time that I’ve ever felt that way,” says Mike Johnson, the chief operating officer of Walmart.
Johnson’s comment is a reminder of the challenges of Walmart’s digital transformation.
As the nation’s largest retailer opens up its stores, it faces the question of its workers and customers.
“As soon as you open a location, you have to be on call. That’s why you open a Sam’s Club,” Johnson says. “But now, the big question is: How do we provide the convenience to our customers when their day gets so much more difficult than it is when we open stores?”
Sam’s Club still opens on Mondays.
That means Walmart employees, who have