Walmart is bringing back employees known as “greeters” to its store entrances. The company is also adding a fleet of “asset-protection customer specialists” who will check receipts as shoppers leave, The Wall Street Journal reports.
According to reports, Walmart is testing the added door presence in 300 of its 4,500 US stores. Some speculations have arisen that the idea sprung because Walmart’s theft problems are getting worse. The company likely loses about 1 percent of its US revenue or roughly $3 billion dollars every year because of theft. The company is making a renewed push to reduce theft, according to Walmart US chief, Greg Foran.
“One percent of $300 billion is quite a lot of money. If you can save 10 basis points [or 0.1%] of it, boy, I’ll take it every day of the week and put it into lower prices for customers. The losses could come from stealing or mistakes in recording inventory,” Foran told Reuters.
“In the first quarter, the gross profit rate declined 13 basis points, driven primarily by a headwind from shrink, half of which was in food. We are addressing this increase immediately, bringing a high level of focus and visibility to this concern by adding it as a key urgent agenda item this year,” Foran further revealed, according to a transcript.
The company had an earnings call last month, and Foran blamed a decline in gross profit margins on theft, which the company calls shrink. He said half of the theft occurred in the food departments. This is why Walmart hired additional employees in the store’s entrances, aside from its main purpose to improve customer service.
Three years ago, the company removed greeters so they could help direct shoppers and restock shelves. The biggest private employer moved its greeters further back into the stores in what it called action alley, near self-checkout stations, in order to direct shoppers to open registers and perform other tasks. Now that they are bringing them back, Walmart hopes the increased presence at store entrances will make the stores friendlier.
Walmart spokesman Brian Nick told ABC News, “Some stores will literally move greeters to the door. Some of those greeters might check customer receipts as they leave, similar to what Costco does at its warehouses.”