Case Study Abstract

The focus of this case study is the supply chain of the world’s largest retailer, Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart in recent years has struggled with its supply chain. The big question is: Will Wal-Mart be able to revive the competitive advantage it had in the past with its efficient supply chain? This case discusses the supply chain management practices of Wal-Mart over the years. A brief of Wal-Mart’s past distribution, logistics and inventory management processes is covered. The use of innovative Information Technology (IT) practices to enable the supply chain is discussed and highlighted. The benefits or competitive advantage Wal-Mart derived over the years from its supply chain management practices is also covered.

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction – Can Wal-Mart sustain its Supply Chain Advantage?
  2. Wal-Mart in US Retail Market
  3. Wal-Mart – Company Background
  4. Wal-Mart – Timeline
  5. Wal-Mart Supply Chain Management Case Study

  6. Wal-Mart: Quick Facts (Revenues, Total Employees and Stores, Competitors, Major Brands/Labels, Business/Growth Strategy)
  7. MANAGING THE SUPPLY CHAIN – THE WAL-MART WAY
  8. Pricing and Procurement Strategy
  9. Supply Chain Integration through Product/Process Knowledge Sharing
  10. Supply Chain Partnerships
  11. Distribution Strategy
  12. Logistics Management
  13. Cross Docking
  14. Inventory Management
  15. Store Formats
  16. Wal-Mart – International operating formats
  17. Related Reading
  18. Questions for discussion
  19. View sample pages of this case study
Case Study Keywords: Wal-Mart, Supply Chain Management, Retailing Strategy Case Study, Logistics and Distribution, IT enabled supply chain, Information Technology, Supply Chain Partnerships, supply chain integration, information sharing, inventory management, retail store formats, cross docking, pricing and procurement, Sam Walton, discount stores, walmart.com.

Case Questions for Discussion

  1. Wal-Mart’s focus on supply chain management is responsible for its leadership in the retail industry. Discuss the distribution and logistics practices adopted by Wal-Mart. How far has Wal-Mart’s supply chain contributed to its competitive advantage? Explain.
  2. Companies that have significant buyer power and are very focused on exerting price pressure on their suppliers rather than seeking increased profitability through business process innovations. Support this statement with examples/best practices from your own field.
  3. Wal-Mart has always used innovative information technology tools to supplement its supply chain. In a few words, explain how use of IT tools/enabled processes have benefited Wal-Mart. How has IT impacted you/your department?
  4. What steps can Wal-Mart take in order to revive/sustain its supply chain advantage?
  5. Wal-Mart invited its major suppliers to develop profitable supply chain partnerships. Discuss how good/bad is sharing knowledge/critical information with vendors/suppliers or even customers?
  6. “It’s not a sale; it’s a great price you can count on every day to make your dollar go further at Wal-Mart.”, as quoted in the article, “Pricing Philosophy,” posted on www.walmart.com. Comment.

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Case Updates/Snippets

  • Wal-Mart’s new slogan – In September 2007, Wal-mart changed its slogan to “Save Money. Live Better.” Wal-Mart's earlier slogan for 19 years was “Always Low Prices.”
  • Benefits of shopping at Wal-Mart – According to a study by research firm Global Insight, Wal-Mart saves American families $2,500 each year. This figure rose from $2,329 in 2004 by 7.3 percent.
  • Wal-Mart’s new slogan in 2011: Wal-Mart’s latest tagline is “Low Prices. Every Day. On Everything.”
  • Wal-Mart Online – Wal-Mart has 10,000 stores globally with annual revenues of more than $400 billion and 200 million weekly shoppers. According to Internet Retailer, it ranks six as in the largest Internet retailer list. Wal-Mart trails Amazon.com Inc, Staples Inc, Apple Inc, Dell Inc and Office Depot Inc. Wal-Mart does online business in United States, the UK, Canada and Brazil and does not reveal the percentage of online sales. Its digital technology unit called @WalmartLabs targets smartphones and social networking audience.