Do you remember Y2K? Legacy computer systems were built to handle years that went as high as 1999, but not years that began with a 2. As the year 2000 approached, people worried that airplanes would fall from the sky and their toasters would no longer work (not to mention their bank accounts and all government systems) as all computers simply shut down.
Meanwhile, IT workers around the globe worked feverishly to make sure that all their systems were Y2K compliant, and everything turned out fine.
Walmart has its own version of this situation going on, and it will affect you as a Walmart supplier.
Walmart currently uses a four-digit number system to identify stores, clubs, distribution centers and Home Office departments. There are about 10,000 possible combinations (depending on your rules for zeros) of four digits, so this system limits Walmart to 10,000 stores.
Five-digit numbers would accommodate up to 90,000 stores. Over the next four years, Walmart will roll out it Store Number Expansion (SNE) program, which will use five-digit store numbers and will accommodate the new growth Walmart is planning.
The project has already been underway for several years, and it is expected to be 2017 before the entire process is completed.
Why will it take so long? Right now, all the information systems Walmart and Sam’s Club uses are based on those four digit numbers. Every field requiring a store or club number is set to accept four digits. They must all be changed to accept five digits. This includes Excel macros and other software as well as Retail Link.
It’s time for suppliers to get in on the fun. By Janury 2017, all your systems which use Walmart or Sam’s Club store numbers will need to use number fields which allow five, not four digits.
Suppliers should review all internal systems that interface with Walmart and make sure that they meet this requirement. It’s not too early to begin.