case five Wal-Mart Stores Inc., March 2004

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1 case five Wal-Mart Stores Ic., March 2004 TEACHING NOTE SYNOPSIS By 2004, Wal-Mart (W-M) was ot oly the world s biggest retailer, it was also (i terms of sales reveue) the world s largest corporatio. I a idustry characterized by itese competitio ad thi margis, W-M has experieced 40 years of cotiuous growth ad cosistetly high profitability sice Sam Walto opeed his first store i Arkasas. Durig this period W-M has trasformed itself from a discout retailer servig small tows i Arkasas ad Oklahoma to, first, a atioal discout chai ad, subsequetly, to a iteratioal retailer with multiple retail formats (discout stores, warehouse clubs, superceters, ad eighborhood stores). The case offers isight ito the basis of W-M s pheomeal success by reviewig W-M s mai fuctios ad major operatig activities, icludig: purchasig, distributio ad warehousig, i-store operatios, marketig, iformatio techology, huma resource maagemet, ad upper maagemet decisio processes. These descriptios offer a basis for aalyzig the resources ad capabilities that form the foudatio of W-M s competitive advatage. The case describes W-M s developmet uder Sam Walto s leadership, ad shows how, after his death i 1992, W-M has retaied the values ad maagemet priciples established by him. Lookig to the future, the case questios W-M s ability to sustai its competitive advatage i the face of icreasig size, cotiued success, iteratioalizatio, ad growig diversity of its retailig busiesses. The mixed performace of W-M s overseas busiesses raises importat questios about W-M s ability to trasfer its retailig capabilities from the US to coutries with very differet cultures, retailig coditios, ad ecoomic systems. This ote was prepared by Robert M. Grat. 32

2 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH Parallel issues arise i relatio to the diversificatio of W-M s retail formats. I additio to its discout stores, W-M has become a successful operator of warehouse clubs ad superstores (hypermarkets) that sell food as well as hard ad soft goods. What are the limits to W-M s ability to diversify its retail activities? The issue of W-M s ability to sustai its success relates ot oly to its expasio ito ew coutries ad ew retail markets, but also the cotiued success of its core US discout retailig operatios. To what extet is W-M s competitive advatage sustaiable agaist (a) imitatio by competitors, (b) iovatio by competitors e.g., ew approaches to retailig, (c) the depreciatio/obsolescece of its core resources ad capabilities e.g., will the W-M culture, values, employee loyalty, ad maagerial drive erode over time? TEACHING OBJECTIVES I use the case to itroduce the aalysis of resources ad capabilities. The case allows studets to idetify W-M s resources ad capabilities i a systematic fashio, the to appraise the extet to which these differet resources ad capabilities cofer competitive advatage. A cetral issue i the case is the aalysis of sustaiability. I a competitive idustry such as discout retailig where imitatio is apparetly easy, which amog W-M s resources ad capabilities offer the basis for sustaiable success? The case allows some iterestig extesios ito the role of resources ad capabilities i iteratioal strategy ad diversificatio strategy. POSITION IN THE COURSE The case should be used as a itroductio to the aalysis of competitive advatage; i particular for illustratig ad applyig the cocepts ad techiques of resource/ capability aalysis. ASSIGNMENT QUESTIONS 1. To what extet is Wal-Mart s performace attributable to idustry attractiveess ad to what extet to competitive advatage? 2. I which of Wal-Mart s pricipal fuctios ad activities (amely: purchasig, distributio ad warehousig, i-store operatios, marketig, IT, HRM, ad orgaizatio ad maagemet systems/style) do W-M s mai competitive advatages lie? Idetify the distictive resources ad capabilities i each of these fuctios/activities. 3. To what extet has W-M bee able to trasfer the competitive advatage it established i discout retailig i the US (a) to other coutries ad (b) to other retail sectors ad formats? Why has W-M s overseas performace to date bee so patchy?

3 34 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH To what extet is W-M s competitive advatage sustaiable? Why have other retailers had limited success i imitatig W-M s strategy ad duplicatig its competitive advatage? 5. Lookig ahead, what measures does W-M eed to take to sustai its recet performace ad defed agaist competitive (ad other) threats? READING R. M. Grat, Cotemporary Strategy Aalysis (5th ed), Blackwell Publishig, 2005, chapter 5. CASE DISCUSSION AND ANALYSIS W-M s Performace I start by askig the class how good W-M s performace has bee. The aswer (should be) pretty spectacular. Betwee 1992 ad 2003, W-M s ROE has averaged 22 percet. This is way above the log-term average for most retailers, ad is well i excess of W-M s cost of equity capital over the same period. As Ster Stewart have show, W-M has oe of the highest levels of ecoomic profit (EVA) for ay US corporatio, ad is close to the top too i market value added (market value of equity less accumulated capital ivestmet). This strog profitability has bee achieved despite W-M s cotiuous strog growth (averagig 19 percet per year durig ). I geeral, strog top-lie growth teds to reduce bottom-lie profitability because of the costs of expasio (capital ivestmet costs, start-up costs, acquisitio premiums, etc.). A further feature of W-M s performace has bee its cosistecy over time: across the ecoomic cycles W-M has show remarkable costacy of both growth ad profitability. Sales growth durig the past 10 years has bee betwee 12 ad 26 percet; ROE has bee betwee 19.2 ad 25.3 percet. Both sales growth ad profitability were lower i the 1990s tha they were durig the 1980s. However, there is very little evidece of ay cotiued deterioratio of W-M s log-term performace sice the early 1990s. Explaiig Profitability A key issue for ay compay experiecig superior performace is to explai why. Cocetratig o profitability, our basic strategic aalysis tells us that superior profitability ca be the result either of idustry attractiveess or of competitive advatage. To what extet has W-M bee successful because of locatio i a attractive idustry? Idustry aalysis There is ot much evidece i the case o idustry profitability. The average ROE of other discout retailers (Kmart, Target, Costco, ad Dollar Geeral) is a

4 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH modest 11.6 percet. Moreover, the dire state of W-M s closest competitor Kmart is clear evidece that discout retailig is a brutally competitive busiess. There is ot eough evidece i the case to perform a elaborate idustry aalysis of discout retailig; however, from the iformatio that is give, supplemeted by geeral kowledge of retailig, it should be possible to perform a rough-adready Five-Forces aalysis. Thus, key structural features of the discout retailig idustry are: Supplier power: some strog maufacturers of braded products (e.g., P&G, Gillette, Soy); however, most evidece suggests that it is the major retail chais that hold the more powerful bargaiig positio. Buyer power: weak buyers are idividual cosumers. However, buyers are very price sesitive. Substitute competitio: strog for every product category there are a variety of other specialist ad geeral retailers, icludig olie retailers. Etry: weak. Idustry rivalry: geerally strog sice there is little product differetiatio (differet retailers offer similar rages of products); there is excess capacity (the US has a higher square footage of retail space per perso tha ay other coutry); the fixed costs are substatial, which ecourages retailers to maximize sales volume. However, the key factor limitig competitio is that this is a geographically fragmeted market typically idividuals shop withi a mile radius. Hece, withi the US there are may thousads of local markets ad, i may of these, seller cocetratio is very high. Wal-Mart s choice of geographical segmets This feature of the discout retailig idustry that it is comprised of may distict local markets is critical to recogizig oe elemet of W-M s superior profit performace. As the sectio describig W-M s history makes clear, a key elemet of W-M s early strategy was locatig stores i small ad medium-sized tows that other discout chais had igored. The advatage of this strategy was that W-M s stores faced competitio from small, local, idepedet stores, but ot from other large discout stores. Moreover, oce W-M had established itself withi oe of these tows, it preempted the market W-M s moopoly positio was secured by the fact that the local market was too small for two large discout stores to survive. Over time, as it exteded its geographical reach to the etire US ad icreasigly to metropolita areas, W-M has bee brought ito closer competitio with other discout stores. However, W-M still reaps the beefits of its small-tow locatios. Because idividual store maagers are give discretio over pricig, the small-tow W-M stores are able to charge higher prices ad ear higher margis tha their metropolita couterparts.

5 36 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH 2004 W-M s Competitive Advatage The observatio that W-M is more profitable tha its rivals (see table 5.5 i the case) is clear evidece that the overwhelmigly importat source of W-M s superior profitability is its competitive advatage over its earest rivals. W-M has cosistetly outperformed its closest rival, Kmart, ad bee more profitable tha eve its more successful rivals (Target, Costco, Dollar Geeral): WAL-MART TARGET KMART* COSTCO* DOLLAR GENERAL Retur o av. equity % 19.4% (75.1%) 13.6% 18.7% (* for Kmart ad Costco, ) I ecourage studets to go further i usig the comparative fiacial data i the case to shed light upo the ature of this competitive advatage. I ask studets whether W-M s competitive advatage is a cost advatage or a differetiatio advatage. The case does ot provide comparative price data; however, it should be clear from the studets ow shoppig experiece that W-M is amog America s lowest-price retailers. This shows up i gross margis despite higher ROE, W-M s gross margis are lower tha Target ad Dollar Geeral s ad about the same as Kmart. Clearly W-M chooses to compete by beig price competitive (ad therefore earig low gross margis). So, where are the sources of W-M s superior cost efficiecy? The Dupot formula allows us to break dow retur o capital employed ito two elemets: ROCE = Profit margi o sales Rate of capital turover O both sides we ca see aspects of W-M s superior efficiecy. I terms of costs as a proportio of sales, W-M s SGA is lower tha its mai rivals (but greater tha Costco). I terms of capital turover, W-M is turig over its total assets faster tha ay of its rivals (we ca also break this asset turover dow ito its costituet compoets: ivetory turover ratio, average collectio period for receivables, fixed asset turover ratio, etc.). The aalysis below is oly for 2001 ad However, 2003 ad 2004 show the same patter: WAL-MART TARGET KMART COSTCO DOLLAR GENERAL Retur o av. equity % 19.4% (50.0%) 11.3% 21.0% % 21.0% (3.2%) 15.4% 7.7% SGA as % of sales % 22% 21% 9% 20% Sales/av. total assets

6 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH Idetifyig ad Appraisig W-M s Distictive Resources ad Capabilities To aalyze the sources of W-M s competitive advatage especially its superior efficiecy we eed to dig dow ito its resources ad capabilities. I relatio to each of W-M s value chai activities (i.e., purchasig, warehousig ad distributio, i-store operatios, marketig, iformatio techology, huma resource maagemet, orgaizatio ad maagemet), I ask what are the mai characteristics of how W-M performs the fuctio/activity ad to what extet has W-M developed distictive capabilities ad distictive resources i relatio to this fuctio/activity. To make the most efficiet use of class time, I sometimes pre-assig specific studets to particular fuctios or activities. For example, o the eveig prior to the class, I might idividual studets to otify them that they will be called upo to commet o a particular fuctio or activity. The purpose is to gai isight ito what W-M s orgaizatioal capabilities are ad how they developed. To this ed, I may specify the followig questios: What does W-M do differetly from other retailers? How did W-M develop this distictive way of coductig this activity? Why is this a source of competitive advatage? Are there ay critical resources that this activity draws upo? Some of the key poits I m lookig for iclude: Purchasig: W-M s buyig power derives from the huge size of its purchases (its critical resource i this area). However, it is also orgaized to maximize the impact of this buyig potetial through: cetralizig its buyig; placig vedors represetatives uder pressure (the widowless cubicles, metal furiture); limitig the power of suppliers by limitig each supplier to a maximum of 2.5 percet of W-M s total purchases; collaboratig with suppliers (e.g., EDI) to offer suppliers cost savigs that could the be passed o i discouts for W-M; Iteret-based buyig that allows W-M to access purchasig opportuities worldwide. Warehousig ad distributio: The key distiguishig features here are: W-M is resposible for distributig most of its goods to its stores; W-M s hubad-spoke system. How does this differ from other retailers? They rely more o their suppliers to udertake delivery; because they did t expad i so systematic a fashio, they have less well-itegrated ad less well-positioed hub-ad-spoke systems. Is W-M s system superior? Yes! Why? Because it:

7 38 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH 2004 gives W-M cotrol it has total cotrol over schedulig its deliveries to stores, which allows it complete itegratio of its supply chai (thereby allowig lower levels of store ivetories, reducig likelihood of stockout, etc.); permits efficiecies from higher capacity utilizatio of trucks larger drop volumes (as compared with idividual suppliers offerig idividual store drops), ability to utilize truck backhauls to retur excess i-store ivetories; allows W-M to itroduce iovatio throughout its etire distributio system e.g., cross-dockig. To show the advatage of the W-M system it is useful to draw the W-M hubad-spoke system where suppliers deliver to warehouses ad W-M delivers to stores, as compared with a system where each supplier delivers direct to the stores. I-store operatios: Two key features characterize W-M s i-store maagemet: Decetralizatio of decisio makig. A key feature of W-M s system is the level of autoomy give to store maagers over pricig ad merchadisig. This decetralizatio is exteded dow to idividual departmets withi stores. The result is flexibility to adjust to local coditios (stockig products that meet local eeds; adjustig pricig to local competitive coditios) ad flexibility to respod quickly to ew local market coditios. High level of cosumer service. Although W-M s competitive advatage is basically its cost leadership, it also seeks differetiatio advatage through meetig shoppers eeds ad prefereces. Key aspects of offerig a superior retail service are see i (a) offerig a wide rage of goods, (b) esurig availability (avoidig stock-outs), (c) adjustig to local eeds ad prefereces, (d) offerig a positive customer experiece (e.g., greeters, satisfactio guarateed program, etc.). Marketig: The hallmark of W-M s approach to the market is simplicity ad cosistecy. The Everyday Low Prices theme positios W-M as the low-price retailer while also allowig major ecoomies i advertisig ad promotio. Note that W-M s advertisig/sales ratio is a mere 0.5 percet oe-fifth of Kmart s, oe-seveth of Sears Roebuck. Iformatio techology: W-M has log bee a leader i the applicatio of IT to retailig (e.g., it pioeered EDI with suppliers, EPOS data gatherig, satellite commuicatio, etc.). Key aspects of W-M s IT systems are: They are closely tailored to W-M s decisio-makig eeds. The IT system provides a very rapid flow of iformatio (i may cases i real time) to decisio makers to allow faster, more accurate decisios. I particular, POS data are cotiually beig aalyzed while they are beig collected to provide easy-to-use feedback to store maagers, warehouse maagers, ad suppliers.

8 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH W-M s IT system creates close itegratio throughout the whole value chai. The most remarkable aspect of W-M s operatio is the close likage of the etire supply chai. The result is a system i which ivetory turs are amog the highest i the idustry: WAL-MART TARGET KMART COSTCO DOLLAR GENERAL Ivetory turs, 2002 (sales i 2002/ ivetory, av. ed-2001 ed-2002) Huma resource maagemet: Fudametal to W-M s capabilities across all its activities is the motivatio, flexibility, ad cooperatio of its employees. What is differet about W-M s employees? The iterestig feature is their sheer ordiariess. The huge majority of W-M s 1.4 millio employees are workig-class idividuals with modest educatioal attaimets doig relatively low-skilled jobs for pay that is ot very far above miimum wage. So what is it that makes their performace so remarkable? Two factors seem critical: W-M s culture. W-M s culture has its roots i the priciples ad values of Sam Walto, which themselves are a reflectio of the society of which he was a part. The protestat Christia, rural, comparatively poor areas of Arkasas ad rural, southwest America are closely associated with W-M s values of thrift, hard work, fairess, simplicity, ad friedliess. Uder Sam Walto there was a remarkable uity withi W-M. Eve though Sam Walto was the richest ma i America while most of his associates were earig less tha $6/hour, they shared the same dress, way of talkig, ad lifestyle. W-M s people maagemet. This is based upo the W-M culture ad Sam Walto s maagemet priciples. These are to reiforce motivatio, both through empowerig employees with decisio-makig ad cosultatio rights, ad providig them with fiacial icetives. Not least of these was W-M s profit-sharig ad stock owership scheme that created several thousad millioaires amog W-M employees. But W-M s HRM policies exted well beyod decetralizatio ad fiacial icetives; the real brilliace of its people maagemet lies i its ability to treat its employees as idividuals, ad to offer them respect i very tagible ways listeig to their suggestios, askig for their opiios, elistig them i W-M s strategic iitiatives. It is these values traslated ito everyday practices that create a family atmosphere withi this huge corporatio. Orgaizatio ad maagemet: The peculiarities of W-M s top maagemet structure are ot always apparet to studets, so establishig the distictive features of W-M may take a bit of drawig out. If the studets have difficulty articulatig the key features of W-M s maagemet structure ad methods, I ask: Would you like to be a maager at W-M? or How may Harvard MBAs do you thik are workig at W-M? I ecourage them to picture life

9 40 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH 2004 as a W-M regioal vice presidet. These key idividuals live at the W-M HQ at Betoville, ad sped most of the week visitig stores ad warehouses withi their regio. They have o office withi their regio, ad sped Friday ad Saturday i meetigs back at HQ. It s a tough life a lot of travel, high expectatios, ad few perks (travelig o low-cost airlies; stayig i budget motels). Who are the people that thrive i this lifestyle? It s ot MBAs from prestigious B-schools, but iterally promoted maagers who have worked their way up from beig local warehouse assistat maagers ad departmet maagers withi stores. They have degrees, but mostly from state uiversities i Arkasas, Missouri, ad such places. Why are distictive capabilities associated with W-M s geeral maagemet? Probably the key lies i the role of the regioal VPs i providig direct ad persoal likages betwee HQ ad the local operatio. O Friday/Saturday they are takig corporate decisios; o Moday they are implemetig those decisios withi their ow regios. Is W-M s Competitive Advatage Sustaiable? Havig established the resources ad capabilities that uderpi W-M s competitive advatage, the key issue cocers their sustaiability. I broach this issue by askig: Why has t Kmart bee able to replicate W-M s resources ad capabilities ad imitate W-M s strategy? At first glace, this seems a paradox: W-M has few secrets. As oe retail executive commeted to me, Retailig is a ope book. There are few secrets. Each of us ca walk ito our competitors stores, see what is beig sold, at what prices, what promotioal support is beig offered, what POS systems are i operatio, ad so o. Time allowig, I fid it useful to ru through the chai of activities from purchasig to top maagemet structure ad systems ad ask what ca be copied ad what ca t. Some resources are apparetly easily replicable: there is othig to stop Kmart (or other retailers) from istallig state-of-the-art IT ad commuicatio systems. W-M s hub-ad-spoke distributio system ad techiques of warehouse maagemet ca also be imitated. However, eve with these items, the problem for other retailers is that i order to imitate W-M, they must first dismatle what they already have. This raises issues of path depedecy W-M is what it is because it has slowly developed i that way; Kmart has developed alog a differet path. For Kmart to leave its path ad move oto a ew path would result i it icurrig some very heavy costs of recostructig its resources ad systems. Other resources ad capabilities are much less easy to replicate. W-M s i-store maagemet capabilities, its HRM capabilities, ad its geeral maagemet capabilities deped upo a key resource the W-M culture. This is somethig that is uique to W-M. While a rival might do a good job of replicatig every aspect of W-M s tagible resources, ad its maagemet method ad systems, the magic igrediet that makes it all work for W-M is the culture the values, beliefs, ad behavioral orms that provide the orgaizatioal glue holdig the bits together. A further irreplaceable resource is corporate size. W-M s purchasig capabilities i particular, its ability to pressure suppliers for preferetial discouts deped upo

10 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH its huge purchase volumes. No other retailers are close to W-M i terms of volume. Similar poits ca be made about fiacial resources (I would imagie that W-M has the lowest cost of capital i the sector). Extedig W-M s Competitive Advatage: (1) To Differet Retail Formats How successful has W-M bee at extedig its competitive advatage to other types of retailig? Aswer: moderately. The oly fiacial data we have relates to Sam s Club (table 5.3). Here margis are much lower tha i the Wal-Mart Stores divisio. However, these margis may be offset by greater capital turover (as idicated by higher sales/sq. ft.). Some idicatio of W-M s stregth i warehouse clubs is idicated by the fact that Sam s Club ad Costco are the two pricipal survivors i this itesely competitive sector. The etry ito superceters (which ivolved a major move ito food retailig) also seems to have bee very successful. However, W-M s other retail vetures Hele s Arts ad Crafts, Dot Drugstores, Hypermart USA were less successful ad were sold off. Why has W-M bee successful i retail vetures that are closely related to its origial discout stores retail model? Primarily because W-M has bee able to draw upo the same capabilities that have made it successful i discout retailig. Note that, i most istaces, W-M has ot directly shared its resources across these differet types of retailig Sam s Clubs ad Superceters have a separate distributio system. However, the key appears to be a replicatio of the same capabilities i IT, supply chai maagemet, i-store maagemet, marketig, customer service, ad HRM withi the ew retail formats. Extedig W-M s Competitive Advatage: (2) To Differet Geographical Areas Does W-M have a history of adjustig well to ew geographical locatios? For the most part, the aswer is yes. W-M s whole history has ivolved steady expasio throughout the US (ad subsequetly throughout the world). I relatio to the US, may doubted W-M s ability to compete as effectively i the sophisticated east ad west coasts as it had i Oklahoma ad Missouri. But W-M has cofouded its critics, showig that it could retai its culture ad its systems while adaptig to differet customer requiremets i local markets. Overseas expasio has represeted a very differet challege. Istead of simply extedig its existig systems ito ew localities, overseas expasio has ivolved settig up etirely ew systems i a very differet eviromet, parterig with a existig local player, or acquirig a local retailer. I Argetia, Germay, ad the Far East, W-M has ot performed well. I Mexico ad the UK, W-M has bee very successful. I cotrast with its US expasio, W-M s overseas expasio has ot ivolved ay stadardized, systematic market etry ad market developmet strategy.

11 42 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH 2004 Aalyzig the desirability ad the desig of W-M s iteratioal strategy requires careful cosideratio of the followig issues: Ca W-M replicate its resources ad capabilities i a overseas compay (either from scratch or withi a acquired compay)? Will these resources ad capabilities have the same relevace to key success factors as i the US? For example, do everyday low prices ad very large stores with a vast rage of choice appeal to customers as much overseas as i the US? Ca W-M s system of distributio work i other coutries? Will W-M s approach to HRM be as effective i motivatig ad geeratig iitiative i cultures that are very differet from the US? Ca W-M create the ew resources ad capabilities it eeds to be successful outside the US? These iclude cultural adaptability, acquisitio maagemet ad itegratio capability, ad joit veture maagemet capability. Sustaiig Competitive Advatage i the Future What kids of threats does W-M face? 1. Risks of growth ad maturity. Will success kill W-M? The more it grows i size, the more it risks dilutig its uique culture ad looseig the bods that create a family-like atmosphere. Similarly, the wider its geographical spread, the more it distaces itself from its small-tow, Arkasas roots which ourished the W-M values. Icreased size has more direct ad tagible effects too. How ca W-M retai the close likages betwee the Betoville HQ ad the idividual stores as it cotiually expads? Maturity has also meat lower returs to shareholders what effects will this have o employee motivatio? Ordiary W-M employees retirig as millioaires from their W-M stock provided a powerful motivator ad attractor for may low-paid employees. Growig size ad success also meas that W-M becomes more of a target for competitors, labor uios, govermets, ad grass-roots activist groups loss of social legitimacy ad icreasig diversio of maagemet time ad effort to defedig the compay agaist its critics may sap its vigor. 2. Risks of overseas expasio. W-M s overseas experieces have bee mixed. Overseas markets are iheretly more attractive tha the US i terms of lower levels of competitio ad their lagged idustry life cycles i terms of discout retailig. However, the challege is W-M s ability to establish competitive advatage withi them. The balace betwee opportuity ad risk is a difficult oe to assess. Oe argumet is that, ultimately, cosumers the world over are much the same they wat low prices, variety, quality, ad service. The coverse is that retail markets are divided by culture, levels of ecoomic developmet, customers, ad govermet regulatio. The factors that determie success i the US are very differet from those that determie success

12 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH i Germay, Chia, ad Argetia. Purchasig, supply chai maagemet, ad i-store maagemet are differet i each. As we have oted, the evidece is mixed. Most tellig is the fact that, ulike IKEA, W-M has othig approachig a global strategy. I every coutry its approach has bee mixed eve experimetal. 3. Risks of imitatio. W-M s retail practices cotiue to become better kow ad better uderstood. Some compaies have eve experieced partial success i replicatig the W-M HRM practices ad W-M culture: for example, Asda i the UK (it is iterestig to observe that it was because of this closeess that W-M decided to acquire Asda). The fact is, however, that the performace differetial betwee W-M ad its closest US rivals has remaied wide. W-M is ot a static target it is cotiually workig to improve its systems ad upgrade its capabilities. 4. Risks of iovatio. Probably some of the most sigificat threats that W-M faces are from competitors emergig with ew, potetially superior, strategies. Retailig has followed a process of creative destructio i which market leaders are cotiually beig displaced by ewcomers. Typically these ewcomers pioeer ew approaches to retailig. Idepedet stores were decimated by chai stores, chai stores the fell victim to discout stores. Will W-M the kig of the discout chais suffer the same fate? Almost certaily, at some time. However, the iterestig fact is that W-M has already survived several ew retailig waves. Whe warehouse clubs threateed discout stores, W-M joied the ew wave ad became oe of the most successful warehouse clubs. Whe category killers such as Toys R Us i toys, Home Depot i home improvemet products, Best Buy i appliaces threateed the discout stores, W-M fought back. It is ow takig market share from Toys R Us, Circuit City, ad may others of the category killers. The most recet wave olie retailig has prove to be much less of a threat tha may realized. While the dot.com retailers wither ad fail, W-M cotiues to grow sales ad market share. Strategy recommedatios Recommedatios for W-M s strategy eed to grow directly from the aalysis of W-M s resource/capability stregths ad the potetial threats that it faces i the upcomig years. Some of the most critical issues relate to iteratioal expasio, sice it is overseas that W-M faces the greatest opportuities ad the greatest risks. However, my preferece is to ackowledge the iteratioal dimesio, but to leave detailed cosideratio of iteratioal strategy util the course moves o to explicit cosideratio of global strategy ad the MNC. Far more productive i terms of the topic of resource/capability aalysis is the issue of what W-M eeds to do i order to safeguard its US market positio. Studets are likely to propose a umber of key questios ad possible recommedatios:

13 44 WAL-MART STORES INC., MARCH 2004 How does W-M sustai its key resources especially the uique corporate culture? As Sam Walto ad his persoality ad philosophy become more distat ad W-M moves further from its Arkasas rural roots, how ca it retai its distictive values ad sese of fu ad purpose? What kid of maagemet techiques ca do this? What does this imply for the type of top maagemet W-M eeds to appoit? Cotiuous improvemet through iovatio ad upgradig capabilities. W-M caot stad still. There are threats to its competitive advatage from imitatio ad, more sigificatly, the emergece of ew retail forms. W-M eeds to build cotiuously o its competitive advatage, usig advaces i iformatio ad commuicatios techologies, ew approaches to icreasig customer satisfactio ad iovatios i materials hadlig, supplier relatios, merchadisig, ad people maagemet, to make W-M a more difficult target for would-be competitors. Itroducig ew retail formats. W-M has doe well i warehouse clubs ad superceters (i grocery retailig, i particular, it seems to be doig a better job tha may established supermarket chais). It is expadig its eighborhood stores cocept. How far should it go? What types of retailig are cosistet with its resources ad capabilities ad which are ot? What about olie retailig should this be a major push for W-M? Should W-M cotiue to expad outside the US? Is there a dager of overexpasio i terms of stretchig W-M s close-kit orgaizatio ad movig to less attractive locatios?

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