Sam’s Club to shed 11,000 jobs as it outsources in-store sampling duties

Bentonville, Ark. Wal-Mart Stores will cut about 11,200 jobs at Sam's Club warehouses as it turns over the task of in-store product demonstrations to Shopper Events, an outside marketing company.

The cuts represent about 10% of the warehouse club operator's 110,000 staffers across its 600 stores. That includes 10,000 workers, mostly part-timers, who offer food samples and showcase products to customers. The company also eliminated 1,200 workers who recruit new members.

Employees were told the news at mandatory meetings on Sunday morning.

"In the club channel, demo sampling events are a very important part of the experience," said Sam's Club CEO Brian Cornell in an Associated Press report. "Shopper Events specializes in this area and they can take our sampling program to the next level."

Cornell described the move not as a cost-cutting measure, but as an “investment” in enhancing Sam’s Club’s demo program. He added that Shopper Events plans to hire "roughly the same number of people" cut, and that Sam's Club workers are invited to apply for those positions.

Cornell said Sam's Club decided to eliminate its membership recruiting unit because "we have found that we can more effectively drive membership through targeted member acquisition events and by increasing our partner membership programs."

Shopper Events, based in Rogers, Ark., currently works with Wal-Mart's namesake stores on in-store demonstrations. They will launch a new demo program called "Tastes and Tips" with new carts, signs, uniforms and a trained team, the report.

In a memo to employees, Cornell said eligible workers will receive severance pay and benefits, and that the company will help them find opportunities at other Sam's Clubs and in Walmart stores, in addition to Shopper Events positions.

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