Walmart Case Essay

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Q1: What are the sources of Wal-Mart’s competitive advantage? At the heart of Wal-Mart’s sustained competitive advantage is the drive to be profitable. It has achieved its success through superior logistical, operational, and organizational efficiencies. Wal-Mart’s strategy of building stores and warehouses in a “hub and spoke” configuration has been one of its greatest sources of competitive advantage. As a logistical strategy, the company indentified underserved rural regions with a maximum population of approximately 10,000 people all within a day’s driving distance (~150 miles) from the warehouse; in those areas real estate costs are low. Each warehouse served as a distribution hub for approximately 150 stores in a given region. In addition, Wal-Mart owned its own fleet of trucks, currently the largest private fleet in the United States, so it could maintain complete control over its distribution operations. From an operational perspective, Wal-Mart was the first retailer to adopt technological advances in information systems and inventory management. Technologies such as UPC scanners, RFID tags, Retail Links, and MCAPS allowed them to efficiently manage their supply chain and reduce shrinkage; as a result Wal-Mart provided their suppliers with point-of-sale information so that the suppliers could in turn plan their production runs accordingly and keep their own prices competitive. Due to its high-volume purchases (and sales), the company was able to exercise sufficient power over its suppliers to negotiate favorable payment terms; suppliers were credited at the time of sale. This resulted in the suppliers retaining ownership of their products until goods were sold at which time the accounts-payable term began. The combination of the two—high-volume purchases and sales, and delayed accounts payable—allowed Wal-Mart to improve its inventory turnover while

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