Walmart's shelves may not be as organized as they usually are, but a friendly "hello" will never be in short supply now that the retailer has started its latest experiment: moving its greeters back to the front entrances to boost "door presence," the Wall Street Journal reports. In efforts to deter theft and improve customer service, management is cutting down on the greeters' multitasking duties in 300 of its 4,500 US locations, returning greeters to the perch from which many had been removed to help out in other areas of the store, the paper notes. Some entrances will also be staffed by members of the APCS (asset protection customer specialist) team, yellow-shirted employees who in addition to greeting customers will check receipts of departing patrons and scan in merch being returned.
Three years ago, Walmart started justifying many greeters' paychecks by shuffling them between their welcoming posts and other areas where help was needed, the Journal reports; a company job posting indicates "Walmart greeters may clean store entryways, departments, or even restrooms if assigned such a task." But some stores reported increased merchandise losses—dubbed "shrink" in the industry—as "people started walking out the door with cartloads of stuff," a stock employee tells the Journal. Such losses cost Walmart 0.13 of a percentage point of its US gross profit margin in the three months ending April, per CEO Doug McMillon's May conference call—which may not seem like a lot, but adds up when you consider the whopping $288 billion in US sales the retailer enjoyed last fiscal year. (Another part of Walmart's recent game plan: playing less Celine Dion.)