Walmart Inventory Errors Lead to Out of Stock

A partially empty shelf at Walmart
A partially empty shelf at Walmart

I went to Walmart today to purchase a Christmas gift for my daughter. The website said they had two in stock, but the item is out of season, so I didn’t think that would be a problem. Because I was going to be in a town with a Walmart, I stopped in to buy it. I could not find it. Two staff members helped me look and while there were similar items, that model was not in stock.

Then a department manager stopped by. “Why do you think we have it?” she asked.

I pointed to my phone. “It says you have two in stock.”

She laughed and said, “If it said we had ten in stock, I bet we could find one, but if it says two?” she shook her head. “Chances are we don’t have any.”

“Do you, do you think they were stolen?” ask one of the helpers.

“Could be, but we haven’t counted our inventory since April, and an outside party did the count. I don’t think they were that accurate to start with.”

After I got back home, I ordered it with free shipping. I hope their shipping warehouse has a better count.

Bad Business

But imagine that. Inventory that hasn’t been done since April, and knowledgeable employees who doubt the counts. That’s bad for tax and legal reasons, but for a company that relies on computerized inventory, ordering, and replenishment systems, that’s terrible.

The smart thing to do would have been to zero out that item in inventory. Three or four people just looked for it and can’t find it, so the store should move those two items out of stock. That would keep other customers like me from seeing it online or on their app in the store and searching for an item that can’t be found.

Another thing they could do is take three or four employees and count every item in that row or that category. If they did that every night for a month, I bet they could get accurate counts. What’s the purpose of having employees walking around with hand-held computers with built-in barcode scanners if you don’t put them to work?

Just another example of how the world is falling apart. Walmart is the largest employer in the country and they can’t do a basic inventory count.

It makes me wonder how many of those gaps on store shelves are caused by bad inventory. Can you imagine how much food is stolen through the self-checkout lines every week? I bet they look at the computer and it says there are 26 cans of onion and garlic pasta sauce in stock, but 24 walked out the door over the past month and the other two broke, leaving an empty spot on the shelf.

Inventory Your Preps

I do an inventory of my preps every couple of years. No, my food and ammo aren’t being stolen, but it is being consumed. We make a point of trying to replace anything we use, which helps rotate our food and keep supplies current, but it isn’t difficult to forget.

Inventory is also useful for pointing out what we should eat and when. For example, I have more than 100 MRE entrees that are reaching the end of their five-year shelf life. Like the expiration dates on canned food, they will still be edible for a while, but they deteriorate faster than canned food. We need to eat those faster than we have been.

I have also started doing more practice and training with .22LR because I have more than twice as many rounds of it as I do .223 and 5.56 combined. I have a .22LR conversion kit from CMMG that works in my AR and has three magazines. The mags are the same size and shape as a standard .30 round mag, so they fit in my mag carriers. This makes training with the conversion kit in place relatively realistic. It also keeps the noise level down, and the gun is less intimidating for newbies and inexperienced shooters.

I should also mention that I do my inventory on a legal pad. It will still be usable when the power is out of the computers crash for good.

Bad Walmart… or Maybe Not

I feel like I’ve been fairly negative on Walmart in the past two weeks. That’s not my intent. We depend on them. Walmart is one of our primary local stores and we shop there at least once or twice per month. (Around here, pretty much everyone goes to Walmart and our local grocery store because those are our only options for groceries unless we drive 75 minutes). There are the Dollar Generals, of course, but you can’t do that level of grocery shopping at a dollar store.

Like Walgreens, CVS, Home Depot and the other large retail chains, Walmart is being hit be organized retail crime, and that’s driving up prices and damaging the shopping experience for the rest of us. Makes me miss the simpler days when store security took the shoplifters out back and beat the stuffing out of them.


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