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Walmart is a multi-billion dollar company that started small but has grown over the decades to be where it is now. Walmart started with a small idea of selling goods in bulk for less which was typically a discount store. The company now operates multiple stores in many countries, and it also runs one of the largest e-commerce businesses in the world. In total, Walmart has about twelve thousand stores across twenty-eight countries, and its e-commerce websites are also operational in about eleven countries across the world (Wal-Mart Stores, 2017). Walmart has remained among the leading companies regarding sustainability, corporate social responsibility, and employment opportunities for many people across the world. The success of most firms depends on its ability to take advantage of the opportunities available and put to use its strengths to give it a competitive advantage over other companies. Success also depends on how the firm responds to its threats in the market as well as how it deals with its weaknesses to ensure that it remains competitive. Therefore, the paper herein looks at the strengths, opportunities, weaknesses, and threats of Walmart Company. The primary aim of the paper is to identify the competitive advantage of Walmart in the retail sector and how it has managed to remain on top of the list in the industry.
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Walmart has adapted to the changing retail market environment through the application of various strategies that include investing in technology and innovation. Continuous improvement is one of the main strategies that have helped Walmart to maintain its lead in the retail industry. The adoption of the e-commerce platform was one of the ways that Walmart used to respond to the market that was shifting from the physical stores to the online stores. Various factors have affected the growth of Walmart over the years, and some of the forces include technology, innovation, resource availability, legal factors as well as social factors that have affected its entire growth strategy (Wal-Mart Stores, 2017). Globalization has also played a significant role in the push for the company to reach where it has reached.
The change in customers wants over the years has forced Walmart to be changing its product mix over time trying different product types to meet the new customer demands. For example, Walmart has increased its supply of electronics to capture the remaining market share. The entry into the electronic business as a move to respond to the changing customer needs. Another important force that has promoted the growth of Walmart is the increase in the internet usage among many people across the world. The increased internet and phone usage among many people across the world has helped the company to operate a successful e-commerce business
Walmart has one of the most efficient and complex supply chains in the retail industry with the company stocking goods from more than seventy countries across the world. A large number of suppliers and distributors working with the company make it necessary for Walmart to have a robust supply chain management strategy to manage its businesses (Plambeck & Denend, 2011). Walmart is committed to a business that aims at reducing the costs of the supply chains to allow the consumers to have good lives. One of the key supply strategy used by Walmart is strategic sourcing that aims at getting products from suppliers with the best prices who can maintain the demand. After identifying the suppliers, the company then establishes a strong and long-term partnership with the vendors offering the opportunity to purchase high volumes for the lowest prices possible. Walmart also has a well-established communication network that connects the suppliers and the company to improve the flow of commodities along the supply chain to maintain a low inventory (Plambeck & Denend, 2011). The company has taken advantage of technology and innovation to create an integrated supplier management system that helps the suppliers to track their products along the supply chain. Walmart also uses cross-docking as a supply chain management strategy. The practice involves loading outbound or inbound trucks with products directly as they come from the suppliers without having any storage in between.
However, Walmart should consider improving its supply chain by adopting various strategies which include improving collaboration with the local distributors, having less centralized control and by using more technology to manage the flow of products. For example, Walmart can consider using a tracking system to track the products as they come from the suppliers up to the customers so that it can keep records of the customer demand and the supplier capability to meet the requirements.
In developing a strategic plan, the company should consider reviewing its human resource policies since it has not been able to exhaust this area to give it a competitive advantage in the retail market. Apart from the recent salary improvements the firm gave its employees, it can still look into the various ways of improving the working conditions and employee morale. Creating a healthy organizational culture by motivating the employees would also help in improving the performance of the supply chain and the company in general (Wal-Mart Stores, 2017). The Asian market which is currently emerging also presents a significant opportunity to the company which can allow it to expand its market base in the coming years. The company can also form strategic partnerships with other local brands in the countries to make it penetrate the new markets better.
Walmart has much strength that has allowed it to remain at the top of the retail industry market. One of the greatest strengths noted by many researchers is the provision of a variety of products at prices that are hard to beat. Walmart can provide a wide range of products from various brands at affordable prices which attract the consumers from both low and middle-class groups. Even from its business slogan that states “saving money and making life better” one can see that the main focus of Walmart is to serve its customers with products at the best prices possible.
Brand image is one of the major strengths of Walmart as it has managed to remain on the Fortune top 500 for many years making it known as one of the biggest brands in the retail sector (Wal-Mart Stores, 2017). The company also is financially stable making it easy for it to invest in many projects. In the last decade, Walmart has done various changes to its business approach which has made the company make significant profits and an increase in the revenue. Technology has been the center stage in the latest development at Walmart that has allowed the company to incorporate integrated supply chain management systems (Wal-Mart Stores, 2017).
The new division at Walmart aims to introduce robot handling at various points within the supply chain to improve efficiency. The company also aims at introducing new product lines which include foodstuffs and other commodities. The IT and technological infrastructure currently present at Walmart is an outstanding opportunity that will allow the company to adopt the new business strategy of using robots. Research and development are also a core strategy for the company that would support the incorporation of the new division in the organization making the new proposals implementable.
Walmart Company remains to be one of the great players in the retail industry due to its strategic approaches that have given it a competitive advantage over its main competitors. Walmart has a complex supply chain management system that has allowed reducing the cost of operation and hence selling its products at relatively low prices. The company also has various opportunities to continue doing well in the retail industry, and that include constant innovation, technology use, costs, e-commerce among others.
SWOT Analysis Table
- Plambeck, E., & Denend, L. (2011). The Greening of Walmart’s Supply Chain… …Revisited. Supply Chain Management Review, 15(5), 16-23.
- Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. SWOT Analysis. (2017). Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. SWOT Analysis, 1-9.