Case Study Walmart
Strategy Management (MKT 602) A Case Study of Wal-Mart By: Swasti Kumari Shrestha Table of Contents Table of Contents...
Strategy Management (MKT 602) A Case Study of Wal-Mart
By: Swasti Kumari Shrestha
Table of Contents Table of Contents................................................................................................... 2 Introduction ........................................................................................................3 I. Retail Industry................................................................................................10 II. Key Components of Wal-Mart Business Model................................................11 III. Wal-Mart Strategy.........................................................................................12 IV. Sustainability in Discount Retailing – Wal-Mart.............................................13
Introduction Porter (2002) states that root of the problem lies in the lack of distinguishing between operation effectiveness and strategy. The expedition for productivity, quality and speed has resulted in management tools and techniques, total quality management benchmarking, time based competition, outsourcing, partnering, reengineering, change management. In any organization, strategy management is the key to its success. There are many theories based on this assumption that without a proper strategy and planning, it is difficult for any industry to survive irrespective of its size. It is necessary to understand here that all the major corporate organizations have established themselves, thanks to superior strategic planning and implementation. The retail industry is making news everywhere with not only the traditional industries increasing their outlets but some major corporate industries also intruding into this industry like Fresh @ Reliance of Reliance Industries, More of Aditya Birla Group in India. Wal-Mart, a US based retail industry, which is known as the giant in the retail industry has survived and is still the huge enterprise in the world which deals with almost all the F&B products, apparels, etc. It is not only the largest company in world but also the largest company in the history of world.(Fishman, 2006) The present paper is divided into four sections to understand and answer as what makes Wal-Mart the best in the industry, 1. retailing industry at the time of Wal-Mart's innings, 2. Wal-Mart's Competitive advantage and key components, 3. Wal-Mart's Strategy and 4. Sustainable growth of Wal-Mart.
Sam Walton, a leader with an innovative vision, started his own company and made it into the leader in discount retailing that it is today. Through his savvy, and sometimes unusual, business practices, he and his associates led the company forward for thirty years. Today, four years after his death, the company is still growing steadily. Wal-Mart executives continue to rely on many of the traditional goals and philosophies that Sam's legacy left behind, while simultaneously keeping one step ahead of the ever-changing technology and methods of today's fast-paced business environment. The organization has faced, and is still facing, a significant amount of controversy over several different issues; however, none of these have done much more than scrape the exterior of this gigantic operation. The future also looks bright for Wal-Mart, especially if it is able to strike a comfortable balance between increasing its profits and recognizing its social and ethical responsibilities.
Why is Wal-Mart so Successful? Is it Good Strategy or Good Strategy Implementation? -- In 1962, when Sam Walton opened the first Wal-Mart store in Rogers, Arkansas, no one could have ever predicted the enormous success this small-town merchant would have. Sam Walton's talent for discounts retailing not only made Wal-Mart the world's largest retailer but also the world's number one retailer in sales. Indeed, Wal-Mart was named "Retailer of the Decade" by Discount Store News in 1989, and on several occasions has been included in Fortune's list of the "10 most admired corporations." Even with Walton's death (after a two-year battle with bone cancer) in 1992, Wal-Mart's sales continue to grow significantly. Wal-Mart is successful not only because it makes sound strategic management decisions, but also for its innovative implementation of those strategic decisions. Regarded by many as the entrepreneur of the century, Walton had a reputation for caring about his customers, his employees (or "associates" as he referred to them), and the community. In order to maintain its market position in the discount retail business, Wal-Mart executives continue to adhere to the management guidelines Sam developed. Walton was a man of simple tastes and took a keen interest in people. He believed in three guiding principles: 1. Customer value and service; 2. Partnership with its associates; 3. Community involvement (The Story of Wal-Mart,1995). The word "always" can be seen in virtually all of Wal-Mart's literature. One of Walton's deepest beliefs was that the customer is always right, and his stores are still driven by this philosophy. When questioned about Wal-Mart's secrets of success, Walton has been quoted as saying, "It has to do with our desire to exceed our customers' expectations every hour of every day"(WalMartAnnualReport,1994,p.5). Walton's greatest accomplishment was his ability to empower, enrich, and train his employees (Longo, 1994). He believed in listening to employees and challenging them to come up with ideas and suggestions to make the company better. At each of the Wal-Mart stores, signs are displayed which read; "Our People Make the Difference." Associates regularly make suggestions for cutting costs through their "Yes We Can Sam" program. The sum of the savings generated by the associates actually paid for the construction of a new store in Texas (The story of Wal-Mart, 1995). One of Wal-Mart's goals was to provide its employees with the appropriate tools to do their jobs efficiently. The technology was not used as a means of replacing existing employees, but to provide them with a means to succeed in the retail market (Thompson&Strickland,1995). Wal-Mart's popularity can be linked to its hometown identity. Walton believed that every customer should be greeted upon entering a store, and that each store should be a reflection of 4
the values of its customers and its community. Wal-Mart is involved in many community outreach programs and has launched several national efforts through industrial development grants. What are the Key Features of Wal-Mart's Approach to Implementing the Strategy Put Together by Sam Walton -- The key features of Wal-Mart's approach to implementing the strategy put together by Sam Walton emphasizes building solid working relationships with both suppliers and employees, being aware and taking notice of the most intricate details in store layouts and merchandising techniques, capitalizing on every cost saving opportunity, and creating a high performance spirit. This strategic formula is used to provide customers access to quality goods, to make these goods available when and where customers want them, to develop a cost structure that enables competitive pricing, and to build and maintain a reputation for absolute trustworthiness(Stalk,Evan,&Shulman,1992). Wal-Mart stores operate according to their "Everyday Low Price" philosophy. Wal-Mart has emerged as the industry leader because it has been better at containing its costs, which has allowed it to pass on the savings to its customers. Wal-Mart has become a capability competitor. It continues to improve upon its key business processes, managing the centrally and investing in them heavily for the long-term payback. Wal-Mart has been regarded as an industry leader in "testing, adapting, and applying a wide range of cutting-edge merchandising approaches" (Thompson & Strickland, 1995, p. 860). Walton proved to be a visionary leader and was known for his ability to quickly learn from his competitors' successes and failures. In fact, the founder of Kmart once claimed that Walton "not only copied our concepts, he strengthened them. Sam just took the ball and ran with it" (Thompson&Strickland,1995,p.859). Wal-Mart has invested heavily in its unique cross-docking inventory system. Cross docking has enabled Wal-Mart to achieve economies of scale, which reduces its costs of sales. With this system, goods are continuously delivered to stores within 48 hours and often without having to inventory them. Lower prices also eliminate the expense of frequent sales promotions and sales are more predictable. Cross docking gives the individual managers more control at the store level. A company owned transportation system also assists Wal-Mart in shipping goods from warehouse to store in less than 48 hours. This allows Wal-Mart to replenish the shelves 4 times faster than its competition. Wal-Mart owns the largest and most sophisticated computer system in the private sector. It uses a MPP (massively parallel processor) computer system to track stock and movement which keeps it abreast of fast changes in the market (Daugherty, 1993). 5
Information related to sales and inventory is disseminated via its advanced satellite communications system. Wal-Mart has leveraged its volume buying power with its suppliers. It negotiates the best prices from its vendors and expects commitments of quality merchandise (Thompson & Strickland, 1995). The purchasing agents of Wal-Mart are very focused people. "Their highest priority is making sure everybody at all times in all cases knows who's in charge, and it's Wal-Mart" (Vance & Scott, 1995, p. 32). "Even though Wal-Mart was tough in negotiating for absolute rock-bottom prices, the company worked closely with suppliers to develop mutual respect and to forge long-term partnerships that benefited both parties" (Thompson & Strickland, 1995, p. 866). Wal-Mart built an automated reordering system linking computers between Procter & Gamble ("P&G") and its stores and distribution centres. The computer system sends a signal from a store to P&G identifying an item low in stock. It then sends a resupply order, via satellite, to the nearest P&G factory, which then ships the item to a Wal-Mart distribution centre or directly to the store. This interaction between Wal-Mart and P&G is a win-win proposition because with better coordination, P&G can lower its costs and pass some of the savings on to Wal-Mart. Sam Walton received national attention through his "Buy America" policy. Through this plan, Wal-Mart encourages its buyers and merchandise managers to stock stores with American-made products. In a 1993 annual report management stated the "program demonstrates a long-standing Wal-Mart commitment to our customers that we will buy American-made products whenever we can if those products deliver the same quality and affordability as their foreign-made counterparts" (Thompson & Strickland, 1995, p. 868). Environmental concerns are important to Wal-Mart. A prototype store was opened in Lawrence, Kansas, which was designed to be environmentally friendly. The store contains environmental education and recycling centers (Slezak, 1993). Wal-Mart has also adopted the low cost theme for its facilities. All offices, including the corporate headquarters, are built economically and furnished simply. To conserve energy, temperature controls are connected via computer to headquarters. Through these programs, Wal-Mart shows its concern for the community. Wal-Mart has been led from the top but run from the bottom; a strategy developed by Sam Walton and carried on by a small group of senior executives led by CEO David Glass. Although recent growth has led Wal-Mart to add more management layers, senior executives strive to maintain its unique culture. This culture, described as "one part Southern Baptist evangelism, one part University of Arkansas Razorback teamwork, and one part IBM hardware" has worked to Wal-Mart's advantage (Saporito, 1994, p. 62). Just how Successful is Wal-Mart? -- A forecast of Wal-Mart's income for the period 1995-2000, 6
considering increases of 30.6% in Net Sales, 27.7% in Operating Expenses, and 52.3% in Interest Debt (a level which is below Wal-Mart's historically compounded growth rate of 55.6%) indicates that the company should continue to report gains each year until 2000. According to most analysts and company projections, sales should approximate $115 billion by 1996, representing an increase of 30.6% as compared to 1995. If the company continues at this pace, sales should reach $334 billion by the year 2000. The growth on sales that Wal-Mart reported during the 1980s and the beginning of the 1990s will be difficult to repeat, especially considering the ever-changing marketplace in which it competes. In an interview, Bill Fields, President of the Stores Division said, "Wal-Mart is now seeing price pressure from companies that once assiduously avoided taking it on. These include specialty retailers such as Limited, category killers like Home Depot and Circuit City, and catalogue companies like Spiegel. I think everybody prices off of Wal-Mart. You've got Limited reaching levels we'd thought they'd never get to. The result is that everyday low prices are getting lower" (Saporito, 1994, p. 66). In addition, the baby-boomers are reaching their peak earnings years, when financial and personal priorities change. Thus, savings, not spending, will likely take precedence because most baby-boomers are approaching retirement. Based on Wal-Mart's position in 1994, which was considered a year of expansion for the company, (Wal-Mart added 103 new discount stores, 38 "Super-centres", 163 warehouse clubs, and 94,000 new associates) interest debt increased 52.3%. The cost paid by Wal-Mart to finance property plants and equipment forced the company to increase long term debt by 4.6 times during the period 1991-1995. Long term debt for 1995 is $7.9 billion. If Wal-Mart continues its expansion plans based on more debt acquisition at 1994 levels, the company may not attain forecasted gains by as early as 1998. Operating expenses will be a key strategic issue for Wal-Mart in order to maintain its position in the market. The challenge is how to run more stores with less operating expenses. According to Bill Fields,". . . the goal is to increase sales per square foot and drive operating costs down yet another notch" (Saporito, 1994, p. 66). Trends indicate that operating expenses have been growing at a rate of 27.7% in recent years. However, Wal-Mart should reap the benefits of its investments in high technology, and be able to operate more stores without increasing its expenses. Cost of sales historically has been equal to the level of sales. If the company continues to take advantage of its buying power, Wal-Mart can expect to lower its cost of sales. Wal-Mart's future will depend on how well the company manages its expansion plans. For the coming years, the company will need to justify its expansion plans with consistent growth in 7
sales, in order to offset the increases in debt interest and operating expenses. What Problems are ahead for Wal-Mart? What Risks? -- Throughout the 1980s, Wal-Mart's strategic intent was to unseat industry leaders Sears and Kmart, and become the largest retailer in the U.S. Wal-Mart accomplished this goal in 1991. But Wal-Mart's current strong competitive position and its past rapid growth performance can't guarantee that the company will remain as the industry leader or maintain its strong business position in the future. Carol Farmer, a retail consultant, told the Wall Street Journal that, "One little bad thing can wipe out lots of good things" (Trimble, 1990, p. 267). Every move in its business operation ought to be well thoughtout and executed. Wal-Mart needs to address two major areas in order to maintain or to capture an even stronger long term business position: 1) Single-business strategy -- Wal-Mart's success is mainly based on its concentration of a single-business strategy. This strategy has achieved enviable success over the last three decades without relying upon diversification to sustain its growth and competitive advantages. Given its current position in the industry, Wal-Mart may want to continue its singlebusiness strategy and to push hard to maintain and increase market share. However, there is risk in this strategy, because concentration on a single-business strategy is similar to "putting all of a firm's eggs in one industry basket" (Thompson & Strickland, 1995, p. 187). In other words, if the retail industry stagnates due to an economic downturn, Wal-Mart might have difficulty achieving past profit performance. Also, if Wal-Mart continues to follow Sam Walton's vision of expansion, Wal-Mart will reach its peak in the very near future. When it does, its growth will start to slow down and the company will need to turn its strategic attention to diversification for future growth. Social responsibility -- Retail stores can compete on several bases: service, price, exclusivity, quality, and fashion. Wal-Mart has been extremely successful in competing in the retail industry by combining service, price, and quality. However, other merchants may object to Wal-Mart's entry into their community. Because of its ability to out-price smaller competitors, Wal-Mart's stores threaten smaller neighbourhood stores which can only survive if they offer merchandise or services unavailable anywhere else. This makes it very hard for small businesses, such as "momand-pop" enterprises, to survive. They, therefore, fight to keep Wal-Mart from entering their locales. Numerous studies conducted in different states both support and criticize Wal-Mart (Verdisco, 1994). Nevertheless, Wal-Mart did drive local merchants out of business when it opened up stores in the same neighbourhood. As a result, more and more rural communities are waging war against Wal-Mart's entrance into their market. Besides protesting and signing petitions to attempt to stop Wal-Mart's entry into their community, the opposition's efforts can even be found on The Internet. Gig Harbor, a small town in Washington, recently started a World Wide Web page entitled "Us against the Wal." The town's neighbourhood association 8
promised that they "will fight them [Wal-Mart] tooth and nail" (PNA/Island Aerie Internet Productions, 1995/1996). The increasing opposition indicates that the road ahead for Wal-Mart may not be as smooth as Wal-Mart's annual report would entail. This requires Wal-Mart to rethink its expansion strategy since it would not be profitable to operate in an unfriendly community. How Big Will Wal-Mart be in Five Years if all continues to go well? -- Before he died, Sam Walton expressed his belief that by the year 2000 Wal-Mart should be able to double the number of stores to about 3,000 and to reach sales of $125 billion annually. Walton predicted that the four biggest sources of growth potential would be the following: 1. Expanding into states where it had no stores; 2. continuing to saturate its current markets with new stores; 3. Perfecting the Super-centre format to expand Wal-Mart's retailing reach into the grocery and supermarket arena -- a market with annual sales of about $375 billion; 4. Moving into international markets (Thompson & Strickland, 1995). Wal-Mart Super-centres represent leveraging on customer loyalty and procurement muscle in order to create a new domestic growth vehicle for the company. With few locations left in the U.S. to put a new Sam's Club or traditional Wal-Mart, the Super-center division has emerged as the domestic vehicle for taking Wal-Mart to $100 billion in sales. Before the Super-center, Walton experimented with a massive "Hyper-mart", encompassing more than 230,000 square feet in size. The idea failed. Customers complained that the produce was not fresh or wellpresented and that it was difficult to find things in a store so big that inventory clerks had to wear roller skates. One of Walton's philosophies was that travelling on the road to success required failing at times. As a result of the unsuccessful experiment, Walton launched a revised concept: the Supercenter, a combination discount and grocery store that was smaller than the Hyper-mart. The Super-center was intended to give Wal-Mart improved drawing power in its existing markets by providing a one-stop shopping destination. Super-centres would have the full array of general merchandise found in traditional Wal-Mart stores, as well as a full-scale supermarket, delicatessen, fresh bakery, and other specialty shops like hair salons, portrait studios, dry cleaners, and optical wear departments. Super-centers would measure 125,000 to 150,000 square feet, and target locations where sales per store of $30 to $50 million annually were feasible. Walton's prediction was right on target. The Super-center division more than doubled in size during 1993, then doubled again in 1994. Super-centers, once thought of as risky because of slim profit margins on the food side, will most likely make Wal-Mart the nation's largest grocery retailer within the next five to seven years (Longo, 1994).
Expanding overseas, Wal-Mart moved into the international market in 1991 through a jointventure partnership with CIFRA S.A. de C.V., Mexico's leading retailer. Since then the company has entered Canada, Hong Kong, Mainland China, Puerto Rico, Argentina, and Brazil. The WalMart International Division was officially formed in 1994 to manage the company's international growth. By the year 2000, analysts expect Wal-Mart to be a huge international retailer, with numerous locations in South America, Europe, and Asia. The ever-changing market presents continuing challenges to retailers. First and foremost, retailers must recognize the strong implications of a "buyers' market" (Lewison, 1994). Customers are being offered a wide choice of shopping experiences, but no one operation can capture them all. Therefore, it is incumbent upon management to define their target market and direct their energies toward solving that specific market's problems. Technology, demographics, consumer attitudes, and the advent of a global economy are all conspiring to rewrite the rules for success. Success in the next decade will depend upon the level of understanding retailers have about the new values, expectations, and needs of the customer. If Wal-Mart continues its customer-driven culture, it should remain a retail industry leader well into the next century.
I. Retail Industry Strategic decisions are ones that are aimed at differentiating an organization from its competitors in a way that is sustainable in the future. (Porter, 2002) Porter strongly advocates that decisions in business can be classified as strategic if they involve some innovation and difference that results in sustainable advantage. According to Patrick Hayden et al (2002) the retailing industry adopted the style of discounting on its merchandise after the Second World War. It is learnt that discount retailing was not the strategy at the time Kmart, Target and Wal-Mart first started operating their business. Frank (2006) states that when Sam Walton was franchising for Ben Franklin's variety store, invented an idea of passing on the savings to his customers and earning his profits through volume. Prior to Wal-Mart's entry into the market, Sidney and Hebert from Harrison founded Two Guys discount store in the year 1946 which dealt in hardware, automotive parts and later on groceries. Two Guys was the forerunner as compared to today's retailers like Super Target, Wal-Mart which succumbed to the economic recession. Another discount store set up by Eugene as E.J. Korvette, which is often cited as first discount store which did not raise from 5 & 10 cents roots and eventually declared bankruptcy due to inability to compete with the new entrants.Porter (2002) states that combination of operational effectiveness and strategy is essential for superior performance which is the primary goal of any organization. He also says that a company can perform its rivals only if it can operate in different ways which are not in practice. Much emphasis had been laid on strategic positioning like variety based positioning, needs – based positioning and access based positioning.
Along with Wal-Mart, other stores that started operating were Target, Woolworth (Woolco) and K-Mart. However, Target has been functioning successfully, courtesy Wal-Mart, but other two failed in their operations and filed bankruptcy.( Michael Bergdahl, 2004) Porters five forces model explains what strategic decisions should be made and on what basis. The model explains the basic strategies to be considered while starting a business like bargaining power of suppliers. While franchising of Franklin he always looked for cheaper deals and thought of passing his savings to the customers and earning through the margin on volume of bulk purchases. Through the way of discount stores, shoppers were given the cheapest price as compared to any other store. In regard to threats of new entrants, Wal-Mart has been constantly in the news for acquisition of other small retail shops in view of its expansion. But nevertheless it has stiff competition from likes of Super Target, Tesco, etc. it is the world's biggest retail industry.
II. Key Components of Wal-Mart Business Model Wal-Mart is the leader in retailing industry with fiscal revenue of $244.52 billion in 2003 making it the world's largest corporation. Mike reports that Wal-Mart as of 2002 had 1,283,000 employees growing at 11.2%. The above data explains that strategy of Wal-Mart is extraordinary which manages and operates over 4150 retail facilities globally.The key components of Wal-Mart (The Value Chain), which offers cheap prices than its competitors includes firm infrastructure like frugal culture, no regional offices and pleasant environment to work. Managements take lots of visits and it is learnt there are no rehearsals before any meeting which is usually scheduled on every Saturday. In any organization, human resource is the key to development and Wal-Mart efficiently manages its sources. Wal-Mart terms its employees as associates. Manager compensation is linked to the profit of store operated by him, within promotions, compensation offered to associates depending on company's profits and also offered some incentives on their performances. The workforce at Wal-Mart is not unionized as the company takes all the measures of their benefits and provides them training on related issues. Technology plays a vital role in development of the organization and Wal-Mart is well equipped with technological innovations like POS, store performance tracking, real time market research, satellite system and UPC. Wal-Mart procurement measures like hard-nosed negotiations, partnerships with some vendors, centralized buying, planning packets, etc. helps at large the cause of providing the goods and services on cheap prices. The other factors that increase the margin of profit for Wal-Mart are inbound logistics with frequent replenishment, automated DCs cross docking, pick to flight, EDI, hub and spoke system. Wal-Mart strategy of operation is innovative with big stores in small towns with monopoly in the market at low rental costs, local prices, concentric expansion, merchandising in brand name, private labels, little space for inventory, store within store, etc. In relation to marketing and sales, merchandising is tailored from locals, spent less on advertising and the prices are fixed low and 11
it depends on the store manager to fix the latitude of pricing. All the above factors combined together form the key components of Wal-Mart which not only increase the margin of profits through bulk sales but also boost the confidence of the customers with services like point of sale information system and everyday low prices.
III. Wal-Mart Strategy Wal-Mart dominates the American retailing industry due to number of factors like its business model which is still a mystery and its effectiveness in not letting the rivals let know about the weaknesses. Wal-Mart made strategic attempts in the its formulation to dominate the retail market where it has its presence, growth by expansion in the US and Internationally, create widespread name recognition and customer satisfaction in relation to brand name Wal-Mart and branching into new sectors of retailing. It is learnt that Wal-Mart strives on three generic strategies consisting of Focus Strategy, the Differentiation Strategy and overall cost leadership. Managers strive hard to make their organizations unique, distinctive and identify key success factors that will drive the customers to buy their products. Thus, firm specific resources and capabilities are crucial in explaining the firm's performance. The Resource Based View (RBV) explains competitive heterogeneity based on the premise that close competitors differ in their resources and capabilities in important and durable ways. The company's capability can be found through its functionality, reliable performance, like Wal-Mart superior logistics. (Helfat, 2002) Wal-Mart has firm infrastructure, well equipped in human resource with management professionals and technologically too. Any organizations thrive hard to be successful for which it needs to have better resources and superior capabilities. Wal-Mart has strong RBV with economically and financially very strong enough to stand still in the time of crisis. Pereira states that dominating the retail market is its key strategy. Wal-Mart operates on low price strategy which is operated as every day low prices (EDLP) which builds trust among the customers.(Brunn, 2006)The strategy lies in purchasing the goods at lower prices and selling the goods to customer at much lower prices, cutting the price as far as possible and increasing the profit by increasing the number of sales. This ferociously increases the competition in the market and Wal-Mart competes with all its competitors till it is dominant it the market. Wal-Mart is expanding seriously and rapidly which is also its strategic goal. Wal-Mart employs over 1.3 associates, owns over 4000 stores out of which 3000 are in US and serves around 100 million customers weekly. Wal-Mart has acquired many international stores and merged with some super stores like ASDA in UK. Wal-Mart far flung network of retail outlets has ensured 12
that Wal-Mart interacts with and has impact on virtually every locality within US. (Helfat, 2002) The expanded strategy has led the hunger of Wal-Mart to many European Countries. It is learnt that three countries with no Wal-Mart stores became part of corporation's international presence wherein the domestic retail chains were taken over by Wal-Mart including 122 Woolco stores in Canada, 21 Wertkauf stores in Germany and 229 ASDA units in United Kingdom. The takeover strategy by Wal-Mart keeps the company at forefront when entering into the new market and the number of competitors is also minimized. The strategies have helped the Wal-Mart to rein in number one position in international countries making it the largest retailer in the world. It is seen that Wal-Mart has significantly the Porters five force model wherein through proper strategic planning and strategic implementation has led to removal of barrier entry, rivalry from competitors and pricing norms. In regard to substitutes, Wal-Mart in order to achieve its aim of customer satisfaction has selling goods under its own legal brand. Wal-Mart's big box phenomenon has changed the retailing industry in the United States which is often considered as discount stores and makes profit through high volume of purchases and low markup on profits.(Parnell, 2008)Wal-Mart with its low cost and ever expanding strategy has made a dramatic impact since 1962 when Sam Walton first started his business. With this strategy, Wal-Mart has now over 4000 stores and outlets in US and other countries through acquisition and mergers.
IV. Sustainability in Discount Retailing – Wal-Mart According to Porter, (2002) operational effectiveness and efficiency are the key elements of success in any organization. A company can outperform its rivals or competitors in the market only with superior management and efficient control creating a difference from the others which eventually attracts customers. Porter defines operational effectiveness as performance of similar activities as its rivals but better than them. In a study, it is stated the Wal-Mart is expert in manipulating perceptions. It is termed that low price is not the strategy of Wal-Mart but the advertisement manipulates the consumer perceptions by making them think that its prices are lower than its competitors' price using ‘price spin'. Wal-Mart makes the consumer addicted coming to its stores by convincing them the prices are lower than in the other stores by selling itself cheaper by advertising that ‘we have lower prices than anyone else' and placing a ‘opening price point'. The ‘opening price point' is the lowest price in the store which is kept at high visibility which makes consumer believes that the products in this store are really cheaper. (Race Cowgill, 2005) The SWOT analysis of Wal-Mart reveals that it is most powerful retail brand, reputation for money, value, commitment, and provides wide range of products. It is growing at a brisk pace 13
with expanding its horizon to other parts of world through acquisition and merger. Wal-Mart has good opportunities in markets of Europe and China and focuses on acquiring the market through acquisition of smaller stores and merger with leaders in the specific markets. Wal-Mart is always under threat to sustain its top position in market nationally and internationally. Global leader in the industry leaves the organization vulnerable to many socioeconomic and political problems of the country. Sustainability at the top place is the most important job that makes its managers strives hard to frame the policies and strategy to compete with its rivals in the market. Slack, Imitation, Substitution and Hold-up are some of the threats to any organization in retail industry. However, Wal-Mart with its visionary goal of attaining zero waste status and reaching 100% renewable energy has planned to launch number of sustainability initiatives. (GreenBiz, 2008) Imitation increase profits by increasing the supply. But imitation puts reputation, relationship at stake. James Hall reports that Wal-Mart is planning to open convenience stores as Tesco has started and operating in US called Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Markets. (James, 2008) Such tactics will create mixed response among the consumers while degrading the reputation of the leader in market. Substitution reduces the demand for what a firm uniquely provides by shifting the demand elsewhere due to changes in technology. The threats of substitution can be subtle and unexpected like minimizing expenses through videoconferencing instead of air flights to long distance meetings with its managers of other stores, etc. Therefore, substation is an especially effective way of attacking dominant rivals in the market. Substitution offers mixed responses after identifying and understanding the threats. The organization should fight the threat and merging with them, switching to different options of substitution to be in the market. Hold-up diverts the value to customers, suppliers or complementors who have some bargaining leverage which results in tough negotiations, contractual agreements and vertical integration. Wal-Mart is having great network with almost over 7800 stores and Sam's Club locations in 16 markets worldwide. It employs more than 2 million associates and serves more than 100 million customers every year. According to Fishman (2006) Americans spend $26 million every hour at Wal-Mart which makes it believable that Wal-Mart is financially very strong and is capable of combating any threat from its rivals in the market. Wal-Mart is ever expanding its boundaries by way of acquisition and mergers. Thus Wal-Mart with such a vast network of stores and alliances in the forms of ASDA, Target and many other stores is well protected enough to sustain its top position in the retail industry.
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