Walmart customers are finding that some products in the company’s warehouses are out of stock after it overhauled its eCommerce system so that it is not shipping items that are very expensive to ship.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the changes to its eCommerce system mean that laundry detergent and cat food stored in a warehouse too far away won’t be available for purchase. In the past, the company would ship the items, noted the report. The paper, citing an executive at Walmart suppliers, noted that the new system has also resulted in a decline in sales at some of the companies that supply products for sale on Walmart.com. What’s more, some suppliers weren’t warned of the changes in advance. They now have to stock their products at more Walmart warehouses around the U.S. in order to keep sales the same. “I think long-term it’s absolutely the right choice to make shipments more profitable,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Short term, it’s a bit chaotic.”
Walmart told the Wall Street Journal the change is part of a test to see if it is able to deliver more products via ground shipping, which is cheaper than air shipping. It’s also a test to see if it can lower the number of split shipments, or online orders that come in several boxes from different warehouses, Ravi Jariwala, a company spokesman, said in the report. The test covers products that shoppers purchase the most often such as household cleaners, non-perishable groceries, pet food and makeup. Jariwala said shoppers shouldn’t see a big increase in out-of-stock items because the site will suggest other products in warehouses that are closer by. The system is similar to the technology used on Jet.com, which is the eCommerce startup Walmart acquired two years ago.