The Internal/External Factors of Management – Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.
In today’s world management must consider a wide variety of factors in order to establish an effective management plan. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. is the world’s largest company and number one retailer, with this success a company this large needs to not only to look internally for solutions to their management objectives, they must also look outside of their business for additional resources. With the increase of technology and the easy access to virtually any information, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. must be prepared to react to the multitude of demands made by consumers and suppliers. The rapid change of the retail industry from brick and mortar stores to Internet purchases Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has been able to stay attractive to the buying public. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has accomplished this through a highly sophisticated inventory tracking system that enables the stores, including the Internet, to have in stock exactly what the consumers are looking for. According to Hoover’s Online Wal-Mart Stores, Inc has expanded to about 4,700 stores including about 1,500 discount stores, 1,650 combination discount and grocery stores (Wal-Mart Supercenters in the US and ASDA in the UK) and 532 membership-only warehouse stores (Sam’s Club) (2003). With the introduction of a foreign market their management plan must encompass the rules and regulations of doing business in a foreign country. With the invention of their tracking and identification system, called Radio Frequency Identification (RFID), Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has exerted control over their entire inventory and enables the workers to identify and locate merchandise more readily for the customers. E-Commerce has increased the ease of purchasing for consumers; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has a web site that allows for the ease and convenience of purchasing almost every item in the store over the Internet. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has been very innovative in meeting the needs of their clientele, with the Supercenters, it is basically one stop shopping for all of your household and grocery needs, without the hassles of stopping at two stores when you run your errands. As a highly respected private employer, Wal-Mart is committed to uphold diversity.
Wal-Mart is fully committed to respect their employees and provide them with opportunity, equality, growth, fair treatment, and understanding. Many large companies feel this is easier said than done. However, Wal-Mart has developed an equal opportunity program that set goals with timetables to provide equality in the workplace. In addition, they solicit feedback from their employees on an annual basis through a “Grass Roots Survey”. This enables Wal-Mart to have an updated understanding of the employee’s opinions toward their working practices and procedures. Wal-Mart also provides their associates with the opportunity to discuss issues and seek support through their Open Door Policy and Ethics Hotline. The successful implementation of these program will provide benefits throughout the organization All managers and supervisors are responsible for implementing these goals and programs. This responsibility is measured in the same format as their performance toward other business objectives, such as sales and profitability. Wal-Mart takes pride in their employees and does their best to hire and train motivated individuals. According to Wal-Mart, “we believe that success requires both an environment where people are respected and valued, along with a talented workforce that reflect our diverse customer base.” Wal-Mart strongly believes that in order to keep their steady clientele they must continue to have and grow strong relationships with not only their employees but their suppliers as well. Wal-Mart strongly believes there is no way to better represent the different personalities of each community than to hire within the communities themselves. By hiring locally, Wal-Mart is “representing the diversity and uniqueness of everyone’s hometown.”Wal-Mart employees represent all ages, nationalities, and lifestyles. In 2003, Wal-Mart was the national’s largest employer of Hispanics and African Americans. This organization has steadily increased the number of management positions, which are held by minorities and women. Wal-Mart stands by their claim “whether you want to run the largest private truck fleet in the nation or run a high-volume store, the opportunity can exist for you.”Wal-Mart has been and continues to be committed to providing all employees training and developmental resources that will ensure to help them achieve their present and future career goals. They have numerous training tools, which include but are not limited to classroom courses, computer-based learning, distance learning, corporate internet sites, mentor programs, satellite broadcasts, skill assessments, and job announcements. These tools have been successful in aiding the career enhancement opportunities of women and minorities.
In fact for two consecutive years, Wal-Mart has been ranked among Training Magazine’s Top Training 1000 companies. Wal-Mart reiterates throughout their training process the importance of respect and equality.
In this fast paced world we find ourselves in, circumstances change in the blink of an eye. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has found a way to not only stay in tune with the times but also become a leader in the rapidly changing environment of retail sales. Where once they were only a big gray box of brick and mortar for you household items, they are now building Supercenters that handle not only your household supplies, but your groceries as well – one stop shopping at its best. Consumers are finding Wal-Mart has listened to their needs and provided them with an incredible store where all of their needs can be met. For the consumers that do not enjoy the experience of shopping in a Wal-Mart, they have a website www.walmart.com where you can find virtually all of their home, garden, electronic, music, video, toys, baby accessories and jewelry products. In order for Wal-Mart to adjust to the rapid changes in today’s world, the management had the foresight to make adjustments to the way they do business to be able to accommodate the consumers’ needs and desires.
In 1991, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. decided to enter the international market of retail. In a joint venture with CIFRA it opened a Sam’s Club near Mexico City. The mission was to transport the company’s culture and effective retailing concepts into new countries. Two years later, the Wal-Mart International Division was created to oversee opportunities around the world. Wal-Mart International’s strategy is to achieve global expansion through a combination of “building new stores from the ground up” and “acquisitions made at the right place in the right time.” (Wal-Mart International 1). This strategy positions the company for future development or provides a deep market bases in to existing markets. This division evaluates customer needs; merchandise preferences, and local suppliers in new markets before entering the market. Once a decision is made to enter the market, they use their same marketing emphasis to communicate the “Everyday Low Price” promise. It is a message that every nation understands. They also encourage their associates to get involved in local communities and adapt to local cultures. This international business was recognized in 2000 by Fortune magazine when it ranked 5th on its “Global Most Admired List”. The success of this international business has allowed Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to make bright plans for the future. In 2004, plans have been made to create one hundred thirty new units in existing markets adding to its current one thousand three hundred stores, three hundred thousand employees in nine countries.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is also an industry leader in the use of technology. Before the 1980s, most companies planned by selling seasons based on previous years. In the mid 1980s, companies sought to reduce risks associated with high inventories. They looked to bar codes, scanners, and data exchangers that communicated between retailers and manufacturers. “That’s when Sam Walton set the wheels of change in motion,” explains Harvard Business School professor Janice Hammond, “by pulling suppliers closer to him, insisting that they implement the information technology necessary for exchanging sales date, adopt standards for product and shipping container labeling, and use modern methods of material handling, thus assuring a variety of products at low prices.” (qtd. in Aisner 1). Sam Walton’s initiative has help Wal-Mart Stores Inc. to be a world leader in technology use.
In October of 2001 Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., shut down its website for a major overhaul. “The reaction was at times harsh: Phrases like “highly unusual” and “insane” field news reports.” (Dash30 1) By the end of the month the restructuring and re-engineering were complete. Not only was the site faster and easier to use, but also more reliable and more customer friendly. The site, now better then ever offered it customers over 500,000 items to choose from. Company officials were pleased with the outcome of the revamping and according to Neilsen/Net Ratings, so were the customers; “walmart.com snared six million hits from Nov. 5 to Nov. 26, placing it 8th among e-tailers and increasing its growth by nearly 780%.” (Dash30) Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has consistently stayed at the top of the retail Industry. This can be contributed to the company’s commitment to acquiring the latest networking, information technology and Internet technology to improve its operations. By doing this Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. has streamlined its supply chain and improved in-store operations. The foundation to their customer satisfaction philosophy is making sure the products customers need are on the shelves whenever the customer needs them. In order to do this Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has established Retail Link, which is an Internet-based resource that provides their suppliers with a full range of information about the sales of their products. Through Retail Link suppliers can download purchase order forms, check status of their invoices, determine how many of their products were sold the previous day, upload reports and forecast their products for up to one year. Another innovation that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has adopted is its frame delay data network. This allows for Wal-Mart stores to catalog and examine every transaction that is made so that they will be able to keep their finger on the pulse of the customers’ buying patterns. With this they can tract how much of a certain item customers buy and then relay that information on to the supplier. For example, if customers are buying four of the same item, then Wal-Mart can advise the supplier of this information and then the supplier can package the item in groups of four. Through innovation Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., has redefined the basic dimension of the retail Industry.