When Walmart Buys E-Commerce Companies, Their Benefits Shrink
The New York Times reports this morning that as Walmart acquires e-commerce companies to bolster its ability to compete with Amazon - over the past year it has spent roughly $4 billion on such purchases - it is having an impact on those companies’ employees.

“Last month,” the story says, “many learned that their potential out-of-pocket costs for medical expenses would increase in 2018 at a rate far exceeding the overall rise in health care costs — reaching thousands of dollars in many cases.”

The change plays to perceptions that Walmart is tightfisted with health care benefits, an image it has tried to shake in recent years. “But with costs rising in recent years, Walmart has reversed course in some ways. In 2011, it raised some premiums by more than 40 percent. Three years ago, it ended coverage for employees working fewer than 30 hours per week on average.”

The Times writes that “Walmart says the share of its employees eligible for company-sponsored coverage, and of those choosing it, is slightly above the industry norm. But the health benefits it offers in its online operations appear to be inferior to those of many e-commerce competitors.”

KC's View: I was in a Moosejaw store not long ago, and asked the people working there how being acquired by Walmart had affected them. They said they were hardly aware of any change … but that was pretty early in the process, and I suspect they hadn’t seen any impact on their benefits.

One of the things that make companies special is how they treat their employees, and that is reflected in salary and benefits. Especially in a low-unemployment climate, Walmart risks losing the people who make some of these companies special … and in an effort to move to a lower common denominator, could find themselves wondering why their investments are not paying off at expected levels.