A new smartphone app Walmart unveiled to suppliers on Thursday has the potential to drive improved in-stock levels and increase associate efficiency.
Walmart unveiled the new app at an annual gathering of suppliers in Orlando known as the Year Beginning Meeting. Dubbed SPARC – not to be confused with the retailer’s Spark logo – the acronym stands for Supplier Portal Allowing Retail Coverage. The goal behind the app’s development was to allow real-time data sharing and bring process improvement to the in-store environment. It does so by enhancing the ability of suppliers and third party service organizations to access inventory held in back rooms and take action at the shelf as warranted by in-stock levels. Suppliers and employees of third party service groups who receive appropriate training from a merchandising firm soon will be able to use their smart phones to perform many of the functions that currently require assistance from a store associate armed with a bulkier handheld device known as a Telxon.
The SPARC program represents a major advancement over the current approach and promises to improve the on-shelf availability of items, a metric Walmart refers to as OSA, in a much more efficient manner. For example, suppliers and third party representatives will no longer have to spend time locating a store associate and a Telxon, pull them away from other customer-facing duties in order to access back room inventory.
Prior to the rollout the program was piloted 28 stores in four markets with several major suppliers including L’Oreal, Procter & Gamble
r, General Mills, Kellogg, Unilever and ConAgra.
The app was developed by Walmart’s digital partner Rockfish with funding provided by several major suppliers.