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Walmart was founded in 1962 by Sam Walton, a 44-year-old American army veteran living in Rogers, Arkansas with his wife. The company snowballed, and within five years, there were already 24 Walmart stores, generating over $12 million in sales (Walmart Inc., 2018). By 1970, Walmart’s success was evident, and the company went public, securing its path toward national expansion (Walmart Inc., 2018). Another essential step for Walmart occurred in 1972 when it was first listed on the New York Stock Exchange. The number of stores and sales volume continued to grow dramatically and reached $1 billion in 1980, which made Walmart the fastest growing company in America (Walmart Inc., 2018).
Walmart’s international expansion began in 1991 when it opened the first store in Mexico (Walmart Inc., 2018). In the following year, Sam Walton passed away, marking a new stage in the company’s development. In 1994, Walmart expanded into Canada after purchasing 122 Woolco stores (Walmart Inc., 2018). In 1996, Walmart entered the Chinese market, and in 1998 it moved into the United Kingdom by purchasing one of the leading local retailers, Asda (Walmart Inc., 2018). The company entered the new millennium with a strong international retail platform and a determination for further growth.
In 2007, the company opened an online store, enabling customers to choose items online and pick them up at their local Walmart store. Since the 2000s, the company has also tried to develop its corporate culture and reputation by promoting sustainability, participating in disaster relief, and developing special programs for employees. In 2018, the company “plans to increase its starting wage rate for all U.S. hourly associates to $11, expand maternity and parental leave benefits and provide a one-time cash bonus for eligible associates” (Walmart Inc., 2018, para. 5). Overall, the strategy used by Walmart’s leaders at each stage of its development was successful and helped to promote growth and maintain a competitive edge.
Maintaining Competitive Edge
Today, Walmart is famous for its corporate culture and vision, as well as for its strategic expansion initiatives in the U.S. and other parts of the world. Combined, these features form Walmart’s strategy for sustaining competition and enabling future growth.
Company Culture and Vision
As seen in the case of British Airways, company culture has a strong impact on its international success. Excellent corporate culture is crucial to earning and retaining customers, as well as maintaining a positive reputation. When Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store, he aimed to balance customer care and low prices. Still, Walmart’s vision is to provide excellent value and service at a lower cost. Walmart’s corporate culture is founded on three core values: respect, customer service, and excellence (Farfan, 2017). All of the front-line employees receive comprehensive training on customer service to improve their ability to achieve customer satisfaction.
For instance, Walmart uses a sundown rule, which limits the answer time for customer questions or complaints to less than one day (Farfan, 2017). In addition, Walmart trains store employees based on the 10-feet rule: “Making eye contact, greeting and offering help to customers who come within 10 feet” (Farfan, 2017, para. 10). In addition to high-quality customer service, Walmart customers can also enjoy low prices. The company has an efficient supply and distribution chain, which allows it to cut the costs and maintain prices at a lower level than most of its key competitors do. Besides, Walmart offers seasonal sales, as well as discount schemes to returning customers. Maintaining lower prices while providing a high-quality in-store experience is what distinguishes Walmart from its competitors and allows it to grow on both national and global levels.
Growth Through Strategic Expansion
Since its founding in 1962, Walmart has become the world’s leader in sales and size, employing over 2 million people (“Wal-Mart Stores,” 2017). Thus, Walmart presents an immaculate example of how to succeed in the global retail market. Since 1991, the company has expanded to over 20 countries, showing an active expansion strategy. One of the critical features of Walmart’s strategic expansion is excellent knowledge of the target market. For instance, in Canada, Walmart was entering a relatively stable and mature market, which is why purchasing the stores of a poorly-performing competitor seemed to be the correct decision (Walmart Inc., 2018). However, in Mexico, Walmart used a different expansion strategy, forming a joint venture with a local retailer (Walmart Inc., 2018). The move allowed Walmart to obtain experience and knowledge from a potential competitor. Evidently, the use of strategic expansion largely helped Walmart to develop into an international retail giant.
The company’s development in the national market, however, was mainly driven by innovation. Since the very beginning, Walmart used an innovative approach to business in order to attract and retain customers. The company has always tried to remain on track with the U.S. national agenda, whether by aiding in hurricane Katrina relief or employing veterans in their first year off-service. Technological innovations were also a significant part of Walmart’s national success. To increase its national reach, the company had to introduce innovative ways of boosting operational efficiency. For instance, the introduction of computerized point-of-sale systems in 1983 allowed to make the checkout process quicker, thus increasing the stores’ capacity and improving the flow of customers throughout the day (Walmart Inc., 2018). Another way in which Walmart used innovation to contribute to its national expansion was the instruction of “the largest private satellite communication system in the U.S., linking the company’s operations through voice, data and video communication” (Walmart Inc., 2018, para. 5). By using innovation to its advantage, Walmart was able to boost productivity and cut the costs, thus achieving a higher volume of sales throughout the United States.
Farfan, B. (2017). Overview of Walmart’s history and mission statement. Web.
Walmart Inc. (2018). Our history. Web.
Wal-Mart Stores. (2018). Web.