Earlier this summer, employees in accounting positions at Wal-Mart began worrying that machines would soon replace them. And after months of waiting, their fears have been realized.
According to the Wall Street Journal, in September Wal-Mart officially announced it plans to eradicate roughly 7,000 accounting jobs across 500 stores over the following months. These money-counting and invoicing positions will now be managed by automated machines or handled by Wal-Mart’s headquarters office in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Wal-Mart originally implemented accounting changes during a trail run period to test the new system’s efficiency, accuracy, and financial benefits. After producing successful results, the retail mogul made the changes a permanent fixture.
So what will happen to the thousands of ousted accountancy workers?
Instead of merely firing accountancy employees, Wal-Mart is offering them the opportunity to travel from back-room positions into customer service jobs on the floor-room.
Although the offer is certainly better than no offer, some employees are less than impressed. Many accounting workers have held their positions for several years and have little interest in becoming customer service representatives. Also, by taking on customer-based jobs, many former accountants are likely to experience pay cuts.
Despite these complaints, Wal-Mart continues defending its actions, claiming that modifications to the accounting process were necessary to reach the larger goal of improving the customer experience. By encouraging more employees to focus on customer interaction, Wal-Mart hopes to enhance the shopping experience attracting more visitors.
This renewed dedication to customer satisfaction has undoubtedly become a trend in the retail industry where companies with physical storefronts continue struggling against online competitors.
Although Wal-Mart closed 269 stores in January 2016, it still maintains nearly 4,600 stores in the United States alone and remains the largest private employer in the country.