Former Walmart CEO Lee Scott touts benefits of tech, sustainability in keynote

Former Walmart CEO Lee Scott told Tuesday morning’s keynote crowd that the technology-driven changes in logistics have been “profound” and will continue to change rapidly, but people can still count on some basics to stay the same.

By ·

Former Walmart CEO Lee Scott told Tuesday morning’s keynote crowd that the technology-driven changes in logistics have been “profound” and will continue to change rapidly, but people can still count on some basics to stay the same, such as use of trucking, physical stores, and the value of integrity and continuous learning in developing one’s leadership skills.

Twenty years from now, said Scott, trucks will still be on the road making deliveries, and physical stores will still be in need, but “the changes that do happen will be profound.” Scott said warehouses increasingly will use automation, calling for less workers for manual tasks, but also need for experts “who understand how the systems work.”

Scott said that in his tenure at Walmart, there were vast tech-driven improvements, including better visibility on what was selling in each store, which was passed on to suppliers, allowing for leaner inventory positions in distribution centers. On the logistics side, better technology cut the average waiting period for Walmart trailers to sit empty from an average of five days to one day. Technology, Scott told the crowd, “has changed everything” and on the whole “everything about it is a positive.”

Scott also recounted how sustainability has helped Walmart save on logistics costs and cut packaging waste, even though Scott said he once caught criticism from a conservative who didn’t want Walmart’s actions to add credence to climate change positions. On the other hand, added Scott, some environmentalists were so wary of being associated with Walmart that they refused to meet at the company’s headquarters in 2005 when Walmart wanted their input on sustainability goals and instead met with the company at other locations.

Big companies like Walmart do best with public opinion, said Scott, when they stop being defensive about isolated negative incidents and focus on positive accomplishments, such as the work Walmart employees did to help people desperate for supplies after Hurricane Katrina. “People were willing to embrace us if we did the right thing,” said Scott.

Scott served as Walmart’s president and CEO from 2000–2009. He began with the company in 1979, as an assistant director of the private truck fleet in the logistics division, rising through the ranks to executive vice president of logistics in 1993, and on to other senior leadership positions.

Modex 2014 is scheduled to be held March 17-20, 2014 in Atlanta’s Georgia World Conference Center. The tradeshow will showcase the latest manufacturing, distribution and supply chain solutions in the material handling and logistics industry. Modern’s complete Modex 2014 coverage.



About the Author

Roberto Michel
Roberto Michel, an editor at large for Modern Materials Handling (MMH), has covered manufacturing and supply chain management trends since 1986, mainly as a former staff editor and former contributor at Manufacturing Business Technology. He has been a contributor to MMH since 2004. He has worked on numerous show dailies, including at ProMat, the North American Material Handling Logistics show, and National Manufacturing Week. He can be reached at [email protected]

Subscribe to Logistics Management Magazine!

Subscribe today. It's FREE!
Get timely insider information that you can use to better manage your entire logistics operation.
Start your FREE subscription today!

Article Topics

All Topics
Latest Whitepaper
FREE White Papers: Dive into the Minds of 1,500 Industrial Buyers
The advent of the Industry 4.0 brought with it the next phase in the digitization of the manufacturing sector.
Download Today!
From the June 2017 Issue
Here are five trends that every shipper­—and potential shipper—must watch as the demand for experienced logistics and supply chain professionals soars.
2017 Rail/Intermodal Roundtable: Volume stable, business steady
Cross-Border Logistics: NAFTA tune-up time
View More From this Issue
Subscribe to Our Email Newsletter
Sign up today to receive our FREE, weekly email newsletter!
Latest Webcast
Women in Logistics: Breaking Gender Roles to Win the War for Talent
In this session you'll hear from a panel of women who are now leading top-level logistics and supply chain operations. The panel will share their success stories as well as advice for women who are now making their way up the ladder.
Register Today!
EDITORS' PICKS
2017 Top 50 3PLs: Investment and Consolidation Maintain Traction
The trend set over the past few years for mergers and acquisitions has hardly subsided, and a fresh...
The Evolution of the Digital Supply Chain
Everyone is talking about terms like digitization, Industry 4.0 and digital supply chain management,...

2017 Salary Survey: Fresh Voices Express Optimism
Our “33rd Annual Salary Survey” reflects more diversity entering the logistics management...
LM Exclusive: Major Modes Join E-commerce Mix
While last mile carriers receive much of the attention, the traditional modal heavyweights are in...