“The pressure was on,” he adds. “We came up with a slew of plans that were both customer-first and associate-first, because both sides of the equation were there.” All while working remotely, internationally and incredibly fast.
The pace was grueling: No-contact pickup and delivery, increasing the number of preferred slots and Express delivery were rolled out within eight weeks—across 4,000 locations. “It seemed never ending, but it was all the same purpose, same mission…people don’t really realize the significance of that,” stresses Srini. “It was an unbelievable thing. It was not only about speed—it was also about safety.”
Tom reflects on just one of the many challenges that surfaced: Given that older adults were among the most at risk during the COVID pandemic, they were also the best candidates to be shopping online. And yet, many in this demographic aren’t familiar with online shopping basics. No problem! The team created a how-to video to explain it to shoppers.
“Things that were never conceivably a problem became a problem and needed a solution—things like people not wanting to sign the touchpad with their finger, because they didn’t want to touch anything. They didn’t want to roll down their window to show their license. They didn’t want to get out of the car,” recalls Tom. “All those features—it was like a rolling cadence of development.”
With Tom and Srini heading up this remarkable pickup and delivery shopping initiative, it should come as no surprise they were the recipients of the coveted Sam M. Walton Entrepreneur of the Year award.
And yet, it was a surprise! They both were genuinely shocked when they realized what was happening during the presentation at our 2021 Associates Week.