Projects

Below are select projects I've had the opportunity to lead. For each I acted as creative director or executive creative director, but they represent the work of hundreds of talented individuals.

Retail Innovation

As traditional methods of retail success have become less viable, it became imperative to reinvent the core of Walmart's business and envision new ways of operating.

© 2020 Nick Whitlock.

Post Production

Once the final shot is complete, the real work begins to put the final polish on your story. We'll perfect the color grading, compositing, and final edit, delivering your narrative with exceptional craft.

Experience     /     Motion

Business Challenges

Walmart has a long history as a retailer, and during that time it has seen many changes in the market. It has historically been able to lean on operational efficiency and brick & mortar growth to ensure its continued success.

 

Over the last 10 years however, a changing retail landscape has made that formula less viable. Walmart needed to look for new ways to grow its retail business and achieve operational excellence within this new landscape. To that end, I began to partner with other executive leaders to envision what this new future could look like from an experience strategy perspective.

While many of the challenges stemmed from external changes in the retail market and consumer behavior, Walmart's core merchandising and replenishment business units were also held back by aging technical infrastructure. This meant that often times the best ideas did not win, but instead were held back by technology that could not support them.

Project Goals

Walmart needed to look for new ways to grow its retail business and achieve operational excellence within a changing business landscape. To that end, I began to partner with other executive leaders to envision what this new future could look like.

Support the Customer

Although this effort focused mainly on the internal enterprise tools, everything we created needed to ultimately be in support of the customer, not just internal considerations.

Focus on the Core

As we envisioned new concepts, the team needed to focus on core metrics such as cost of goods sold, labor costs, and item availability measures. This would help us to remain focused on solving the core business challenges.

Enable the Associate

Moving metrics alone would not be a measure of success. New solutions needed to fully support associates, improving the quality of their work and the quality of their experience at Walmart.

With the strategy and visual language defined, we'll craft your story using 2D and 3D animation techniques, bringing your narrative to life for your audience.

Research & Insights

Organizational Design

To begin this effort, it was essential to reorganize the business vertical to support a seamless customer experience. To this end, I partnered with executive leaders from across health and wellness to bring all design, product, engineering and marketing under a singular set of leaders with a single set of priorities and roadmaps.

In addition to this new org structure we began organizing teams using a "4-in-a-box" model, with each project team having clearly defined product, design, business, and engineering resources dedicated. This helped to mitigate unbalanced teams from being formed, created shared accountability across skillsets, and  ensured that every product effort would have the right skillsets to be successful.

Scope of Work

The scope of this effort focused on reimaging how Walmart's core business operations functioned, creating a more competitive and nimble organization for the future.

Strategy & Vision

In partnership with business, product, and engineering we set out to better understand the needs of our merchant workforce and craft a North Star vison for Walmart's merchandising and replenishment operating units.

User Research

We conducted various studies across several groups of internal associates to better understand the current state, their specific needs, and how best we could support them from an experience standpoint.

Product Design

With associate insights in hand, we crafted a new platform focused on bringing the right insights to the right associate at the right time. This platform would later be named Flight Deck.

Walmart merchandising is operated by roughly 350 merchants, each responsible for the profit and loss for one or more categories of products. This responsibility included everything from deciding what items Walmart would carry, the price of those items at any given moment, what selection of items each store would carry depending on store format, negotiating with suppliers, and many other responsibilities. This meant that merchants were essentially running sometimes billion dollar businesses within Walmart.

We needed to take a deep dive to understand how they worked today, what they needed to do their jobs effectively, and how best to support them in the future. To accomplish this we conducted several contextual inquiries and co-creation workshops to surface insights and craft concepts.  I've listed a small selection of some of our findings.

Connections

While Walmart had no shortage of data being captured, merchants spent the majority of their time trying to identify what data was meaningful and connect disparate pieces of information.

Agility

Due the amount of effort needed to identify meaningful insights, decision making and reactions to market changes could take far more time than necessary.

Confidence

Due to previous negative experiences with new digital tools, merchants were slow to adopt new solutions. This fueled a lack of trust in any data and insights provided by new solutions.

Operational Focus

Business processes focused on operational considerations over better supporting customers. Many approvals took weeks to receive or even longer when merchants sought to innovate with the product assortment.

Experience Strategy

Through a series of targeted, cross-functional workshops we began to define the strategic direction for Walmart's merchandising and replenishment units. As part of that strategy we aligned on the core associate groups we would target, the business opportunities we would pursue, and the experience we wanted to provide our associates.

With a fully aligned leadership team, we began to craft strategic artifacts articulating the experience strategy and vision that would act as the North Star for the organization. This included consideration of internal associate needs, as well as how those needs supported targeted customer journeys.

Product Design

Using customer insights and our newly crafted experience strategy as a foundation, my team and I partnered with product and engineering to craft new digital tools  that enable the business to reset cost structure with suppliers through more informed negotiations, cut the assortment selection process from 40 weeks to 4 weeks, and automate pricing and cost changes. We also began creating tools that enable two siloed merchandising organizations across eComm and stores to come together into a holistic, coordinated whole. 

Impacts

By creating this new Flight Deck platform, we have enabled merchants to operate more nimbly and with greater insight than ever before.

Near-Term Impacts

In the 12 months since launch, this new platform has realized $140M in cost saving for the organization.

Long-Term Impacts

It is projected that the new Flight Deck platform will realize over $2B in cost savings over the next 4 years through greater insights, higher performing strategies, and thoughtful automation.

Agility

All core merchandising business processes have been accelerated by this new platform. The biggest impact has been in the item assortment selection process, which has been shortened from 40 weeks to just 4 weeks.