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StrategicManagement Case Study: Walmart Inc.
Wal-martStores Inc. was founded in 1945 in Bentonville Arkansas which is areawhere the company headquarters is located. Majority of the company’sretail stores are locate in the US although it has stores worldwide(Wal-Mart Inc. 1). The Wal-Mart stores sells a wide range of productline including jewelry, hardwares, apparel for ladies, men andchildren, electronics, beauty and health products and numeroushousehold appliances (Wei,wang and Zhang 2). This paper will provide a thorough analysis of the company usingdifferent analytical tools to exemplify the internal and externalfactors that influence the company’s operations, the mission andvision statement, discuss the core values and corporate governance,general macroeconomic environment and other elements that form impacton the operations of the company. This paper will also providerecommendation to improve the strategic position and operations ofWal-mart.
Basedon the report issued by Fortune Global 500 in 2014, Wal-mart is thesecond largest public corporation in the globe. Wal-mart employs morethan 2.2 million people and serves at least 200 million clients everyweek at more than ten thousands retail stores in different parts ofthe globe (Wal-Mart Inc 3). The chief executive office at Wal-mark isDouglasC. Mcmillon,and in the recent past he has stated that the Walmart is focusing ontwo fundamental objectives providing customers with the productsthat they want, when they need it, all at a value and treating eachother as we would expected to be treated, acknowledging our totalreliance on our partners-associates to sustain success (Wal-Mart Inc6). Dueto the swift expansion and growth of Walmart operations around theworld, Wal-mart is also facing stiff competition in from other largeretail stores such as Shopko, Kmart and Target. In addition thereare other smaller retailers that have solely focused on small marketniche, and that can compete successfully with the Walmart (Wei,wang and Zhang 4).
Itis evident that Walmart s one of the most successful corporations inthe globe. The success of the company is pegged on its vision thatinternalizes the aspects of globalization. A vision statement is aproclamation that describes a company and illustrates what thecompany wants to get in the future (Wal-MartInc 7).In this light, a vision statement provides a focus on whichstrategies will be employed and what decision the top management willmake to pave the path to a successful business operation in thefuture.
Wal-martInc is a global player, and its key vision is for additional globalexpansion of operation and support of ownership of ethical culture toall its global stakeholders. The concept of Wal-mart’s vision onethical culture is vital in globalization. Wal-mart has managed toachieve competitive advantage and good reputation in the globebecause it has managed to integrate aspects of culture and diversityin its business across the world (Wei,wang and Zhang ).In promoting ethical culture, the company has assisted clients andstakeholders to make the apt decision and to do the correct thing.
Atthe moment Wal-mart does not have an official mission statement evenso its main mission can be attached to its three fundamental beliefswhich are service to clients, respect for individuals and endeavorfor excellence (Wal-mart Inc. 2014). In this line based on the basicbeliefs and values that guide the company’s operations, Wal-Mart’smission is focused on offering quality products and exceptionalservices every day and at low prices to its clients. Wal-Mart hasmanaged to maintain its market share and sustain its operations formany decades in the retail business due to its top level executivesand management working hard and executing strategies that marry withthe company’s beliefs (Wal-MartInc 7).
Wal-Martvision and mission has offered management an important background formaking effective decisions and executing them. These have also beenvery pivotal in directing and steering the operations of the companyin the right direction.
Corporategovernance can be described as the manner in which rapport amongdifferent stakeholders is managed in a move meant to direct, checkand control the strategic path and organization performance. Itensures that efficient and effective approaches are taken. In thecase of Wal-mart corporate governance circumnavigates arounddirectors, associates, top level managers’ and stakeholders(Wal-MartInc 6).
Organizationa leadership has formed a very vital cog in the operations and thesuccess of Wal-Mart Inc. The top level leadership is constituted bythe chief executive officer, the board of directors and seniormanagers. Douglas C. Mcmillon is the CEO and president of Wal-Mart.Among some of the key board of directors are Michele Burns, AidaAlvarez and Breyer James (Wal-MartInc 19).Over the years massive criticism has been leveled on the company forfailure to include women in its top level management team.Nevertheless, in the recent past the Walmart has accorded women anumber of opportunity and posts in its executive team. It is evidentthat the chief executive officer needs to creates an environment thatsupports good relationship between the top level executive to be ableto execute the strategies successfully. Over the years the topexecutive team has paid colossal sums of money to improve service andserve the needs of the stakeholders better. For example former chiefexecutive officer Scott Lee paid more than $5.23 million to enablethe executive team to serve in the best interest of the company(Hayden, Seung, McMahon, Pereira 16).The board of directors isconstituted by members who are elected by the shareholders to serveon behalf of the stakeholders. In this respect, Wal-Mart canattribute its success to its corporate leaders who come up witheffective strategies and better decisions for attaining enough marketshare and competitive edge in the retail industry. The CEO workshand in hand with the board of directors and other senior executivesmake sure the interest of the owners is attained (Wal-MartInc 19).Wal-Mart has recorded massive growth in the past years and highperformance in its operations due to the presence of a skillful andcompetent management. A classical example is the high share pricethat has motivated shareholders and investors to continue to putmoney into the company.
Topexecutive in the company strives to perform well because they areaccountable to the shareholders. It is essential to state that theaction of stakeholders can influence the operations of the companyand in the same way the operations and the strategic outcomes canaffect the stakeholders. Wal-Mart is large companies with a largenumber of stakeholders whose interest are take care of by the toplevel executives. Stakeholders can be the shareholders, theassociates, the clients who have some interest in the operations ofthe firm. Therefore, Wal-mart has a he responsibility in ensuringthat its stakeholders are happy and satisfied by having strategiccorporate leadership (Hayden, Seung, McMahon, Pereira 23).
Inthis section PESTEL analysis will be used a tool to identify the mainmacro environmental factors that affect the operations of theWal-Mart stores. These elements can create both threats andopportunities for a company and the main aim of using this tool is toestablish the macro environmental factors that might change,establish the current macro environment elements affecting Wal-MartInc and identify ways in which Wal-Mart can exploit the changes inthe external environment and formulate measures of defending itselfagainst threats. PESTEL analysis we help us understand the entirepicture surrounding Wal-Mart Inc.
Thesocio-cultural factors relates to aspects concerning cultural valuesand attitudes of the society within which a firm operates. One ofthe major socio-cultural developments is the continuous growth ofuptown communities. The rising proportion of individuals living insub urban has significant effects on the operation of Wal-Mart.Wal-Mart vision it to continue expanding its stores and seize newmarkets and as such social developments provide a rich prospects foraugmenting its market share. In the past Wal-Mart has made franticeffort to increase the total capacity of its retail stores and haseven included new line of products and services to meet the changingdemands and styles of customers. In 2013 Walmart built more than 50stores in previously unexplored regions in Canada. In the UnitedStates Walmart has more than 4000 retail stores in strategic placesto serve communities better and conveniently (WalmartInc 1).
Politicaland Legal Factors
Tosuccessfully venture and operate smoothly Walmart must meticulouslyanalyze the labor laws, business laws, taxation regulations andcompetition, since such external factors have profound impacts on theoperation of a company both in the domestic market and in overseacountries. For example Walmart immense criticism has been leveledagainst the firm for discriminating the associates based on gender.Until recently the company’s top level management team wasdominated by one gender. Women have faced the blunt edge of thisdiscriminatory practice that has prevented them from occupyingmanagerial and supervisory posts within the company power ladder(Walmart: An Analysis, 2008). The company has also found itself onthe wrong side of the law and has been taken to court on severaloccasion for violation of labor laws. Even though the company is in aposition to redress such allegation and law suits without loss ofsignificant market share, if they keep on recurring they aredefinitely going to affect the reputation of the company negatively,leading to loss of competitive edge that has enabled it to shake offcompetition from other retail players in the United States andinternational markets. Bad reputation can also lead to loss of salesand consequently erosion of reputation as the number one retailindustry. Conversely, it is visible that the Walmart must promotepractices that support gender equality for sustainable growth andsuccess. For a large company such as Walmart the demographic isanalyzed on a global scale because the company has operationsinternational markets (Hayden, Seung, McMahon, Pereira 13).Demographic factors refers to things such as geographic distribution,the population size and the age structure. For many decades Walmarthas been using its wealth, inventory and sales data to segment itsmarket based on demographic s, enabling it to target and market itproducts to a distinct age group, individual in a given incomebracket and ethnicity (Brian, 2006). A thorough analysis of thedemographic segment can enable it to have an in-depth knowledge ofpreferences of various market segments.
Walmartemploys a combination of differentiation and cost leadershipstrategy. Walmart offers a wide assortment of products and servicesthat are relatively cheaper compared to those of other retailers inthe industry. The company focuses mainly on the searching for ways toreduce their costs by continuously rethinking ways to support andcomplete their primary activities to lower costs, while at the sametime maintaining competitive levels of differentiation. The company’ssuccessful supply chain management is a crucial way facilitating theimplementation of the cost leadership strategy (Flannery2).
Thekey element behind the success of Walmart rests in the organizationsconcentration and company believes on the strategy of a singlebusiness, which implies that at least 95% of its revenue emanatesfrom the grocery business (Flannery2).For more than thirty years the strategy of a single business has beencontributing greatly to the success of the company. Top leaders havenever embraced the idea of diversification for the sustenance of itsgrowth and competitive edge in the market.
Theretail industry is under enemy control of few organizations, withWalmart competing in several retail categories. Walmart competesagainst Target and Kmart in the general merchandise retailing,against Safeway and Kroger in supermarket retailing and against Costoin the warehouse club segment (Flannery2).In the retail industry competition among different players iscentered on pricing, the image with shoppers, the location of thestores, the size of the stores, the merchandise mix, the shoppingatmosphere and the variation of store format.
Themain characteristic of Walmart strategy is overall low-costleadership. The company draws a wide spectrum of clients by providinga wide selection of the cheap general merchandise. Walmartaccomplishes a cost advantage by scheming its cost drivers andeliminating the inefficiencies in the supply chain (Flannery2).
Toimprove its competitive edge, Walmart works in partnership withsuppliers with strong brand name who are leaders in their respectiveindustries. Such firms are the dominant players in their category andhave a full product line (Wei,wang, Zhang & Ao 5). The company’s procurement workforce spendssubstantial amount f the time meeting with suppliers, to understandtheir cost structure and trying to search for ways through which thevendors can manage to lower their costs so that it is a win-winsituation for everybody (Flannery3).
Toenlarge its geographic reach, Walmart local strategy is backwardexpansion. This means that Walmart opens new retail stores in smallurban centers neighboring a targeted metropolitan and floods eachregion before budging into new geographic area. Internal growth andexpansion entails a mix of two stratagems: acquisition andconstruction of new retail stores (Wei,wang, Zhang & Ao 5). In the international markets Walmart makesfrantic efforts to remain as local as possible by customizing theproducts it sells so that they meet and match the taste andpreferences of the customers in the in the foreign market. Walmartalso uses synchronized offensive strategies on several fronts.Experiments with store color, store layout and promotions areconstantly on track (Flannery2).Immediately walmart enters a new market whether in the domestic orforeign country, the top managers ensure that it assumes the dominantposition and this forces smaller players out of the industry.
Inthis section swot analysis will be employed to establish the presentstate of Walmart so that we can indetify strategies that do not workappropriately and that need to change.
Wide range of products
Scale of business
Competence in information systems
Cost leadership stratagem
High employee turnover
Lawsuits related to labor
Online marketing and shopping
Improving image of label products
Move towards healthy consumption
Growth of retail market in emerging economies
Hostility from local communities
Rising product prices
Intense competition from brick and mortar and online participants
Wide-range of products.The company provides more products in one retail store than any otherof the retail stores in the industry. Walmart provides health andwellness products, grocery, apparel, entertainment and home relatedproducts all of which are provided as own label commodities andbranded products (Thomas 3). The large assortment of products hasbeen one of the main aspects that has attracted clients to thecompany’s stores.
Internationalbusiness: Walmart does not solely depend on sales from the UnitedStates retail stores as most of its competitors. In the lastfinancial years Walmart was able to generate atleast $135 billionrevenue from sales in international business. In deed theinternational operations witnessed a faster rate of growth than thatrecorded in the domestic market. International markets open newopportunities for the company to grow (Yglesias1).
Scaleof business:Walmart has more than 10,000 retail stores in different states in theU.S and foreign markets. In the last fiscal year Walmart was able togenerate more than $400 billion in revenue making it one of theleading retailers in the globe by size and revenue (Flannery4).This gives Walmart more leverage when it come to handling differentstakeholders such as suppliers and as such is able to reduce costs.In addition Walmart can attain higher economies of scale – which istranslated into reduced prices for customer – and that cannot bematched by competitors.
Proficiencyin information systems:Walmart is able to significantlyreduce its cost by use of moderninformation systems that can track inventory levels, orders, salesand other important information. Relevant data and information can beaccessed and examined and help make decision in every retail store(Flannery5).It is evident that Walmart success has been largely pegged on theeffective logistics and supply chain management.
Costleadership stratagem:This strategy has played a key role in helping Walmart be a low costleader in the industry. It entails provisions of products at thelowest price possible without offering extra services to attainhigher economies of sales (Yglesias1).This has been one of the core strategies that has helped maintain andwin market share from other retail stores in the industry.
Highemployee turnover:Form many years Walmart has been experiencing higher employeeturnover which costs the firm colossal sums of money. Walmart hasbeen a victim of massive criticism from different associates andregulators due to its poor working conditions, female discriminationand low wages. This has significantly eroded the image and reputationof the company in public eyes, which has made skilled workers to beloath to work in the firm (Flannery4).
Negativepublicity:Walmart has receiveD negative publicity because of questionablebusiness practices such as poor working environment and bribery ofauthorities.
Littledifferentiation:The lack of differentiation is a strategy that is likely to hurt thecompany in the coming days if commodity prices increases. Inaaddition if the average consumer income increases, Walmart strategyof low cost would be ineffective in maintaining market share and hismight erode the competitive edge of the firm (Yglesias1).
Onlinemarketing and shopping:In the United State online shopping has grown by more than 5% in thelast two years, reaching morethan $250 billion. Walmart is thelargest offline retailer and this presents a excellent opportunityfor expansion into the virtual market (Flannery4).The firm has thousands of retail store most of which are in strategiclocation and which can be pick up sites for products purchasedonline. In this way the firm can reach more customers and increaseits sales and revenue.
Improvingimage of own label products:In the last one decade, sales for own- label products have increasedby more than 40% (Flannery4).This shows that many Walmart chain products are becoming moreappealing to customers compared to the national brand commodities.The company has an opportunity to augment sales from private labelsto attain higher profit.
Movetowards healthy consumption:Health concerns have propelled many consumers to opt for groceryproducts which are perceived to be healthier (Yglesias1).Walmart has a prospect to expand its grocery stores to generate moreincome from this development.
Growthof retail market in emerging economies:In 2014 retail market grew by more than 5% in the emerging economies,providing an huge prospect for Walmart to increase its sales andrevenue (Flannery4).At the moment Wakmart has operations in emerging economies in China,Brazil, India and Mexico, and the company should increase itspresence in such markets to sustain future growth.
Hostilityfrom local communities:Walmart aggressive market strategy forces many local retailers toshut down in areas where they open new stores. This has not auguredwell with local communities and retailers who lose jobs and businessrevenue (Thomas 3).
Risingproduct prices:The increasing product price has considerably eroded Walmartcompetitive edge by considerably squeezing the profit margin. As thegeneral price of commodity rise the cost variation among retailer’sdecreases and competition swing from price to service and commoditydifferentiation (Flannery4)
Intensecompetition from brick and mortar and online participants:Competitors such as Tesco in the United Kingdom, Target, Amazo andCostco are making frantic efforts to remove the price differencesthat have given Walmart a competitive edge in the past years. Savefor the lower prices, there is no other major aspect that makesdifferentiates Wamart from other large retailers. In the coming daysit is expected that Walmart will face more intense competition fromthese giants (Yglesias1).
Globalizationhas impacted business operations in tremendous ways, and whether anorganization operates in the local or international market therealities of globalization can not be ignored. Being a multinationalcompany Walmart is also facing the myriad of challenges fronted byglobalization (Hayden,Seung, McMahon & Pereira 29). For example expansion into foreign countries means that the companymust have different suppliers, depending on the target market. Moreover the company must understand the values and culture of thedifferent markets where it has operations. To eliminate culturalbottlenecks that can emerge as a result of language problems, pricingconundrum and even cultural collision. Walmart chief executiveofficer must initiate measure to overcome such setbacks that havecropped up due to globalization (Wei,wang, Zhang & Ao 6).
Inthe digital era, the advancement in technology has revolutionized andinfluenced retail industry in profound ways. Technology has affectedretail industry in the following ways:
Promotionand selling method has changed. Network technology has transformedcustomer buying behavior, from purchasing directly from the store tohome shopping. Customers want to save time and buy products at theconvenience of the houses and as such online buying has beenincreasing in popularity, especially in the United States whereaccess to the internet is cheap (Wei,wang, Zhang & Ao 3).Such developments have led to operational changes for retailers andin the coming days online shopping is going to become the mainstreamof the world business model. For a large business organization suchas Walmart with immense organizational inertia response to thesedevelopments has been slow and costly.
Technologyhas rendered store location unimportant by breaking time and spacebarrier. For many years the location of a retail store has been ofvery important because it has influenced the sales and the flow ofclients. In the digital era geographical limitation is no longer anissue and organizations can expand their operations to any place inthe globe. The Chief Executive officer at Walmart must accord thisphenomenon the weight it deserves because the company cannot continueto rely solely on the location of store to boost its sales.
Technologicalare also likely to force Walmart to replace some of the associatesand constantly train those that remain so that they can be in aposition to handle different processes using modern equipment andinformation systems. Changes in the human resources could cause somesocial issues such as unemployment and constant training of employeewill mean time and funds have to be sacrificed.
Technologicalchanges could also reduce the profit margin of Walmart. Customers areable to search for companies and compare prices from differentretailers, meaning they are likely to go for the products with thebest price and highest quality. For many decades Walmart has beenable to wield competitive advantage over other retail stores but thefact that these firms are able to lower their communications costs,purchases costs, labor costs and searching costs, it means they willbe in a position to lower their prices to rival Walmart (Hayden, Seung, McMahon & Pereira 20). Price wars are likely to become fiercer and Walmart profit marginsare likely to go down. The Chief executive officer and the executiveteam will need to search for other ways to shake off competitionbecause price that has been the main tool for the company is going toface immense challenge.
Recommendation:Alternative Strategies for the CEO in 2015
Atthe moment Walmart is going through a period of massive success andenjoying a phase of where it has been ranked as number three in the500 Fortune listing (Rothaermel 218). Even so the firm has failed toexecute their strategy in the best way possible, more profoundly inthe manner and way in which they handle public relation (Flannery 6).The many law suits relating to labor laws that have been leveledagainst Walmart has eroded the image of the company in the eye of thepublic. One of the alternative strategies that the CEO at Walmart canemploy to alleviate this situation is to adopt a friendlier corporateattitude. The CEO needs to alter the aggressive approach that seeksto eliminate small retailers in foreign markets when their establishoperations and look for ways to attract customers using policies thatdo not taint its name. The company must ease the way they enterforeign markets, rather than barging in ruthlessly and buying smallercompanies, the CEO should use the company’s strengths to shake offcompetition (Yglesia 1). If such an approach is employed Walmart willnot only be the largest company in its retail industry but will alsobecome popular in all the markets where it operates.
Itis important to note that there is nothing with being aggressive inthe market especially in the face of massive competition.Nonetheless, the CEO has done it in manner that appears veryruthless. In many places numerous grassroots anti-Walmart group haveemerged to drive away the retail giant from their locality (Quinn17).The prevailing perception among individuals especially in foreigncountries is that Walmart intention is to destroy community. In thepast the CEO has addressed such challenges by shutting operations inhostile areas and shifting it to other localities and this has nothelped to improve public perception. The company has maintained thatthey offer job employment in the geographical regions where theyestablish stores, but the underlying reality is that such individualshave to work at Walmart because local retail stores have been coercedto shut down or acquired by Walmart (Yglesia 1). In 2015 the CEOshould cease to circumvent laws when constructing new stores and showexactly how it can be a good player in the market.
TheCEO will need to send the top level executives and store managersinto local communities so that they can discover how Walmart can workwith different communities in a meaningful way. This will also enablethe company to identify the development projects that it supports aspart of corporate social responsibility (Quinn 35-47). In the samevein Walmart can continue to register massive growth and expansionbut can change its focus away from local dominance to improve itsprofile and image.
Secondly,the CEO should relax the company’s anti-unionization policy and letits workforce freely join unions of their choice. As mentionedearlier, Walmart has received massive criticism from different frontsfor its unfair labor practices. The public that forms the market forthe company is sympathetic to the welfare and rights of workers tojoin unions. In the past Walmart has discouraged its workforce fromlabor unions and in the process the company has used politicalcapitol to thwart any such move. For example the associates in theautomobile department have made efforts to unionize, something thathas not augured well with the top management and CEO (Quinn40).The company has faced litigation from National Labor Relations forviolations of labor laws and this has not only damaged the image ofthe company among the buyers and but has also eroded its reputation.Walmart fights against unionization have invited fierce battles withthe employees, legal battles with regulators and condemnation fromlocal media (Yglesia 1). The Walmart CEO should know that expansioninto foreign states, especially those that are located in Europe willmean that the company must deal with the unionization concern. Suchconfrontation might land Walmart into immense troubles withregulators in European nations, but more importantly face the wrathand anger of European customers.
Lastly,the CEO should use the political capitol and power to learn from thelocal retailers any time the company wishes to enter into a givenmarket. The CEO must be ready to bend the company uniformity andintegrate the aspects of different cultures.
ConclusionWalmartis the largest company in the United States based on sales revenueand is also one of the largest employer that provides more than 1.4million people with employment opportunities. Walmart operations aremainly based within the U.S although in the last one decade it hasopened stores in Canada, China, Brazil, India and Japan. In therecent past Walmart has faced public outcry for its poor workingconditions, low pay, exerting pressure on suppliers and violations oflabour laws. On the positive ides the firm has been commended forhelping reduce inflation in the United States. In an oligopolisticmarket where competition is fierce, adopting an effective strategy isone of the most important undertakings in winning market share. Walmart has primarily focused on the low cost strategy where thecompany seeks to provide a wide range of products at the lowestprices. The main characteristic of Walmart strategy is overalllow-cost leadership. The company draws a wide spectrum of clients byproviding a wide selection of the cheap general merchandise. Walmartaccomplishes a cost advantage by designing its cost drivers andeliminating the inefficiencies in the supply chain.Even thoughemerging economies haveprovided an opportunity for Walamrt toexpand, the challenges fronted by advancement in technology,globalization and increasing product price has considerably erodedWalmart competitive edge by considerably squeezing the profit margin.As the general price of commodity continues to rise the costvariation among retailer’s decreases and competition swing fromprice to service and commodity differentiation. Inthe future Walmart will find it imperative to realign its corporateand business strategies so that it can integrate the challengingrealties in the market. The CEO will need to formulate polices thatdo not discourage workers from joining labor unions, improve wages,working conditions and relax its aggressive approach that hasincreased resistance in foreign market.
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Appendix1: List of Concepts from Book. Strategic Management: Concepts and Cases BY Rothaermel Frank
Cahpterone: Globalisation (challenge in 21st century), competitive advantage
Chaptertwo: Importance of mission, vision and values (customrer orientedmission)
Chapterthree: Pestel framework
Chapterfour: path dependence SWOT analysis
Chapterfive: Triple bottom approach
Chaptersix: Low cost strategy, cost leadership strategy
Chapterseven: Long-tail concept
Chpaterten: Global strategy
Chaptereleven: corporate level strategy
Chaptertwelv: stakeholders impact analysis