Retail

Sam’s Club Swaps Out Accountants For Robots

While there has been lots of talk about robots stealing jobs and prompting layoffs of American retail workers, most people probably weren’t thinking accountants would be first on the chopping block.

But, as it turns out…

Sam’s Club has announced news that it is cutting 700 back-office retail positions at its U.S. brick-and-mortar locations as the company attempts to gain more control over costs and improve efficiency in its operations.

Confirmed last week, the changes will mean that club-level accounting employees will be affected as the retailer automates more of their work through software. Money-counting cash recycler machines will now perform those duties.

This is not the first move of this kind from Walmart (Sam’s parent firm). Last year, the world’s largest retailer initiated layoffs of 7,000 back-office employees across its U.S. Walmart brick-and-mortar retail stores as it expanded a pilot program aimed at improving efficiency.

Apart from accounting, invoicing jobs at the retailer will also be automated and centralized. According to Walmart, the cuts directly impact two or three employees per Walmart backroom. The company has also confirmed that most of the workers will be offered customer-facing positons instead of laying off employees from its 4,600 stores. Sam’s employees have reportedly been made a similar offer.

Those accounting jobs at Sam’s Club, reports have noted, were among the best-paying at the store level in the organization.

Sam’s spokesman Tara Raddohl has noted that Chief Executive Officer John Furner remains focused on simplifying its retail business.

“We want as many associates as possible to be able to stay with the company,” Raddohl said in an email. “We are already working to help them find other roles within their club or find employment opportunities at other Sam’s Club locations or Walmart stores. We are providing 60 days paid notice to each associate impacted. Additionally, we are providing severance pay and benefits for eligible associates.”

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