Kyle Boyd is a manager at a Walmart Supercenter in North Bergen, N.J. Boyd recently took a few minutes out of prepping his store for the holiday shopping blitz to share his perspectives with WGB on the big retailer’s sales momentum, fresh-food presentation and e-commerce.
North Bergen, one of the closest Walmart Supercenters to New York City, does brisk volume particularly in fresh food, Boyd said. The store has not yet received the newly announced “Produce 2.0” merchandising makeover, although some elements of that initiative, including a dedicated organic produce display, have already arrived, as have other features powering Walmart’s new trajectory, including grocery pickup and delivery, an on-site Walmart Training Academy and autonomous robots.
What follows is an excerpted conversation:
Jon Springer: So how long have you been with Walmart?
Kyle Boyd: I’ve been with Walmart for 11 years. I started when I was 19, going on 20. I was an assistant manager in southern New Jersey for roughly five years. And for the six years since then, I’ve been up here.
How's the job?
It’s great. I think Walmart is amazing: the benefits, the associates, the leadership. It’s just a really good company.
As you look back at the things that have changed since you’ve been with Walmart, what sticks out to you as the most impactful?
The biggest thing has been the leadership. [Former U.S. CEO] Greg Foran came in and made a lot of changes for the better. From store standards to putting in Academies to the overall presentation throughout the stores. I think it’s so phenomenal what they’ve done, and you can tell: The experience has really changed over the last couple of years.
Photograph by WGB staff
What can you tell me about the fresh food at this store?
Fresh food is almost 14% of our sales in this store. In a store this size, that’s a lot. Produce and fresh are one of the top categories we have, and we’ve really pushed the freshness and the quality in the last couple of years. We go through a lot of produce in this store: About 40 pallets of fresh products a day, including the meat, deli and bakery departments.
On the floor, we have between 14 and 18 people working, stocking and packing out. We also have about six to eight more in preparation who are back there doing chickens, as well the bakery and the meat department.
[Noting several pickers preparing e-commerce orders on the produce floor:] Some grocers have encountered problems of congestion in aisles when they have a good volume of picking for e-commerce orders in their stores.
I think we do a pretty good job here with the volume that we do. The biggest thing is efficiency, and taking care of the customers in the facility at all times.
How do you make sure the pickup and delivery experience is good for customers?
They get an online survey and they can rate us from 1-5 on how we do it. Most of the time, we get a 5. We also do home delivery here with DoorDash, where they will come and pick up the groceries and deliver to homes. They do a really good job for us in terms of taking care of the customers.
Once in a while, you’ll get a "Dasher" that’s not as consistent as you’d like, but with the customer feedback we get, it’s great for us to know where we can do better, and what drivers we can do better with. We can skip over drivers as well, and pick the ones we want to deliver.
Photograph by WGB staff
What else is new in this store?
We have the Auto-C scrubber, which is phenomenal. It typically runs all night until about six in the morning. It has specific routines it does, going up and down the aisles. It’s pretty cool in that it can go by itself. It’s pretty incredible.
We have Bossa Nova (automated mobile robots that scan shelves for inventory and pricing issues) as well. They run overnight from about midnight till 4 in the morning. They’ll go back out on the floor between 2 and 5 in the afternoon. We’ve been working with that for a little less than two months now and we already see a difference that it makes. It helps us get in-stock much faster. If you think about the time it takes a person to scan each label, this [robot] can scan a whole section in 30 seconds, and it gets us feedback instantly.