Blue Yonder ICON offers insight into Walmart, Forrester

The recent Blue Yonder ICON 2022 event featured an in-depth look at Walmart’s workforce management and Forrester’s vision for order management systems.

I attended the Blue Yonder ICON 2022 Customer Conference held May 23-25 ​​in Orlando. Riding the buzz of being back to an in-person event and the news that Blue Yonder could be made public by parent company Panasonic, the event generated a lot of excitement for operational management. Here are two highlights:

Walmart puts the associate first
In a talk, Rory Graham, Senior Director of Workforce Planning at Walmart US, explained how the discount giant manages the workforce with the employee’s interest at the forefront of its processes.

“You need happy associates,” Graham said. “We use Blue Yonder’s workforce management solutions to allocate resources to the right place to deliver the right value. We don’t necessarily save money, but it helps us to use money wisely and to use people in the right way. People are our most important resource.

Walmart began replacing its workforce management systems globally in 2011 at Asda, the UK supermarket chain which it eventually sold in 2021. The retailer initially implemented the technology to workforce management of Red Prairie, which was later acquired by JDA Software, which in turn was renamed Blue Yonder. in 2020.

“It’s not an overnight process,” Graham said. He said Walmart has nearly completed its implementation of Blue Yonder across the United States, enabling access to clean operational data.

“Employees have to believe in the hours given to them,” Graham said. As an example, he said, with its Blue Yonder system, Walmart can accurately track and forecast the number of cases entering each individual store day by day, which it then aligns with the number of customers. who enter each individual store daily to help optimize staffing hours. In contrast, fulfillment centers only need to track the total volume of cases shipped each day to accurately forecast their labor needs.

Additionally, managing the store’s workforce is more complex during normal business hours, when Walmart determines the number of associates needed in each area of ​​the store in 15-minute increments. Graham explained that night staffing is much simpler, with hours evenly distributed among available employees.

Graham also credited Walmart’s Blue Yonder workforce management system for helping him resolve staffing issues during the disruptive peak period of COVID-19 when most Walmart stores remained open.

“We had to consider things like the need to close a store early for deep cleaning,” Graham said. “Frontline workers have not been able to go home and be distanced.”

Forrester – Order Management Drives Customer Satisfaction
Emily Pfeiffer, Senior Analyst, Commerce Technology, Forrester Research, spoke to the crowd remotely to discuss current trends in order management during a morning keynote session. She looked at Forrester data showing that 69% of US consumers surveyed say it’s important for retailers to show product availability in-store online, while 68% say it’s important to know when items will arrive. before placing an order online.

Meanwhile, 30% of consumers surveyed have checked out a product online before buying it in a store, and 33% are less likely to go to a store if inventory isn’t available online.

“Order management systems will become the bridge to successfully managing customer expectations,” Pfeiffer said. Perhaps in recognition of this, Forrester data cited by Pfeiffer indicates that organizations are moving towards replacing or supplementing their order management systems (OMS) with SaaS-based technology.

Nearly half (46%) of companies surveyed by Forrester have already implemented a SaaS-based OMS, while 44% plan to replace (29%) or supplement (15%) their OMS with SaaS technology in 12 months. Only 8% do not plan to use SaaS in their OMS environment, and 3% do not know.

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