A Bright Idea

Celebrating You

Digital Media Services team develops an energy-saving—and money-saving— solution.

You can turn off one television with the click of a remote-control button. But if you’re Walmart, turning off thousands of screens all at once can get a little complicated.

That was the dilemma facing Ryan Miller, a product manager for Digital Media Services at Walmart. His team of 16 associates works on digital signage and displays in stores.

Earlier this year, the Real Estate team approached Ryan asking if there was a way to turn off the TV walls in the 3,900 Walmart stores across the country that have such a wall. The goal was to save energy.

Unlike the digital signage that Ryan’s team supports, TVs can’t be controlled remotely. Ryan understood that having associates turn off each television wasn’t practical. And powering down the whole TV wall wasn’t ideal. Plus, Walmart works with suppliers to run advertising on the televisions. If some TVs were shut off and didn’t turn back on, that would impact the advertising program.

Fade to Black

Ryan and his team eventually came up with an idea: What about turning their screens black instead of turning them off?

“If the LED lights in the screen don't really have to turn on, then, in theory, they shouldn't be using as much electricity,” Ryan explains. So instead of the content and advertising that typically runs, a blank screen—essentially a black image file—would be scheduled in the overnight hours.

“We tested the idea in the lab, and we saw immediately that as soon as it switched over to that image, the power draw on all the screens dropped quite a bit,” says Ryan.

To make sure the concept worked in a store setting, it was rolled out to a few stores in Arkansas. Measurement devices were installed to monitor the power draw.

It turns out that you can save a lot of energy—and money—when you darken TV screens! During testing, Ryan and his team estimated that the reduced energy use would save Walmart about $500,000 a year, but the Walmart Energy team later updated that estimate to a whopping $675,000!

Bright Ideas

The idea has spurred what Ryan hopes will be the second phase of the project: adjusting the in-store devices that Walmart can control remotely so they can be powered down overnight. With about 23,000 of those devices in Walmart stores, and about 1,000 more being added every month, the energy and cost savings could add up to millions of dollars.

“We're continuing to look for these ways to keep improving and save money and be more effective and overall make that experience for the customer better,” Ryan says.

Mr. Sam famously said that the best ideas come from associates. Do you have a great idea to improve business or save money? Share your idea in the Me@Walmart app or log in and head to MyIdeas!