Wal Mart communities
Technology has been another sphere where Wal Mart has constantly been a leader in retailing. Customer Relationship Management or CRM provided a good opportunity to Wal Mart to increase its commitment to the customer and improve its market image. Wal Mart builds up self service system for its customers through an emerging e commerce model as the largest US retailer. Wal Mart’s Internet customers are able to obtain information of their order status on telephone. This saves time for the Walmart. com’s customers as well as reduces call centre operation costs.
Use of virtual agents will further cut costs. This solution also enables War Mart to get a feed back of the customer. (CRM: 2006). Wal mart has also been a leader in data ware housing and is a recognized leader in this field. This has been followed by other super stores. (CRM: 2006). CRM in turn has led to competitive positioning. The management’s desire and competence for change has thus been well established. Another technology change which Wal Mart was quick to adapt has been Radio Frequency Identification or RFID. (Williams: 2004).
The improved sensitivity, range and durability of RFID have provided excellent advantages in retail stores for logistical planning and supply chain processing. An RFID tag comprises of a micro chip and an antenna like a tiny ribbon which can be read by a RFID reader and the information can be relayed back to any location. This enables updating of location status of the product at multiple levels. Wal Mart was the first retail company to adopt RFID. (Williams: 2004). In June 2003, it declared that its top 100 suppliers were required to put RFID tags on shipping crates and pallets by 1 January 2005.
The large volume of Wal Mart’s business implied that it was able to track its products effectively exploiting GIS technologies as well. This was also the turning point for use of RFID technologies the World over. (Williams: 2004). Organic growth is another means of development adopted by Wal Mart. Analysts observed in 2005 that in the US division, the Management proposed to add 4000 supercentre to its current base to include 2700 new stores, 1200 converted stores and 950 new super centres. (French: 2005). Strategic Alliance has been another route of growth adopted by Wal Mart.
Thus it tied up with America Online Inc, the Worlds leading interactive services company to provide a majority of Wal Mart communities with low cost internet access. (Alliance: 1999). This initiative is also said to have fostered spread of net awareness in small communities across the board. The arrangements for interactive services were also facilitated between Wal Mart Europe and AOL UK through a four year strategic marketing arrangement. (Alliance: 1999) An assessment of Wal Mart change strategies can also be carried out through the Integrated Strategic Change (ISC) model.
This is particularly useful in analyzing the resistance to change and the logical necessity of the change process adopted. The ISC model is a simple process which classifies change into four categories, depending on whether the strategy and the organization are changed a lot or little. This has been explained by Sherman using the Integrated Strategic Change Model of Worley, Hitchin and Ross as at Figure 3. (Sherman: 2005). Four organizations with a large retail profile have been examined and placed in the appropriate box indicating their adoption of a change strategy.