Walmart Stores Inc., centered in Bentonville, Arkansas, is a prominent global retailer. Its mission is to assist people worldwide in saving money and living better. Walmart’s performance is dependent on its central mechanism of reasonable prices daily. Bulky importation of cheap items from nations such as China is consistent with the corporation’s cost-cutting strategy. Walmart China’s achievement is partly due to its view of shipping and marketing as competitive over other competitors (Walmart, 2019). Over 275 million consumers and members visit approximately 11,300 Walmart shops and e-commerce platforms in 27 nations under 58 brands (Walmart, 2019). Walmart hires about 2.2 million individuals globally, with a financial year profit basis of $514.4 billion (Walmart, 2019). Walmart is an industry leader in sustainability, charitable giving, and work opportunities (Walmart, 2019).
The company is committed to increasing employment generation and local production in the United States (Walmart, 2019). The supply chain is embroiled with retail businesses, assisting them in controlling stock levels, manufacturing, scheduling, and quality, among other things. Partnering with vendors provides an additional push to the firm’s performance and product quality. Even while sales in China have not yet hit their peak in the United States, the retail behemoth has several methods to examine to optimize profitability. As a strategist, this mandate aims to make meaningful suggestions and ideas to guarantee Walmart remains the commerce industry’s juggernaut. The purpose of this paper is to assess Walmart’s distribution network, with a particular emphasis on demand forecasting and procurement, warehousing and distribution systems, and developing plans to improve the company’s worldwide positioning and competitive edge.
The projection of future needs for a service or commodity is referred to as demand forecasting. Walmart China proactively switched from direct-to-store shipment to centralized shipment via a Walmart distribution warehouse under its SVP, Leslie Smith (Ren et al., 2020). Even though Walmart logistics companies permitted merchants to send commodities in full truckloads, or small volumes, it was impractical to deliver goods straight to the storefront, which may have over 15,000 inventory units (Ren et al., 2020). Walmart chose vendors who could meet market demand while also offering the best prices for their commodities (Ren et al., 2020). Individual store necessities, such as predicted demands or client requests, were used to aggregate and distribute the supplies.
Walmart China had eleven perishable warehouses and nine dry warehouses (Walmart, 2019). The organization could transport commodities directly from reception to outbound for transportation by utilizing a flow-through system that used cross landing to circumvent storage. This adjustment not only reduced distribution expenses, optimized stock levels, and enhanced customer satisfaction; it also boosted DC turnover by 57 percent in three years (Ren et al., 2020). Throughout the supply chain, several demand projection limits could compromise supply growth. Storage restrictions, vendor restrictions, shipping limitations, and demand satisfaction barriers are examples of these (Ren et al., 2020). However, according to Kusi-Sarpong et al. (2019), a restriction-based supply strategy aims to make an ideal time-phased replacement program for all items and locations. The restriction-based plan is done while following inventory regulations and legitimate supply chain restrictions.
SVP Lesley was in the process of building a new complex to complement the 3PL activities. Productivity was initially restricted in several facilities, involving physical limits, manual structures, and procedures (Ren et al., 2020). In 2018, the peak demand was projected to be around 90,000 orders per day (Ren et al., 2020). To meet client needs, the new location architecture would need to work seven days a week in two sessions, producing a projected 150,000 cases each day (Ren et al., 2020). The new structure would also have to accommodate Walmart China’s estimated 128 storefronts, which are located an equivalent of 170 kilometers apart (Ren et al., 2020). Customers appreciate the site’s ease just as much as the cost or quality of items sold; therefore, this could be a limitation.
Walmart China already sends merchandise directly to customers in over 1900 retail locations. With over 1900 retail shops to serve, Walmart China needed to identify the most cost-effective mode of delivery for the organization (Sitek et al., 2017). Walmart China is similarly heavily reliant on information system management to run its retail operations (Sitek et al., 2017). This Information Technology (IT) framework must aid in the effective management of the supply chain, aiming to improve stock turnover (Sitek et al., 2017). Overstocking can raise expenditures and place a significant strain on finances. The time elapsed between the start and finish of an operation of items require retailers to overstock certain things, which might contribute to the need for additional storage space, which is becoming increasingly expensive.
Some techniques will help to coordinate better the demand and supply sides of Walmart’s production process. Finding strategies to cut operating expenses is essential to increase profitability and reduce administrative expenditures. Another suggestion is to choose vendors who suit their requirements and provide more efficient and effective costs than others. The continued search for methods to improve Walmart’s strategies and activities will also help them save money. Finally, using technology and innovation to automate some jobs while still delivering high-quality results is a big bonus to any firm.
There were 29 independent purchasing departments in China with a workable dry system of only five DCs supplying all retailers. Many vendors and customers were unwilling to utilize the DC because of the high prices for accessing the system and the poor service offered (Reuters, 2019). To address this issue, big cube vehicles with a capacity of 7000 containers were used, and they were dispatched to outlets only when they were full (Reuters, 2019). Regrettably, this procedure took over two weeks, leaving store shelves typically depleted (Reuters, 2019). There was little influence with over 20,000 vendors because most vendors only got approval for quantities of six or more locations.
Strategies to Optimize
Walmart China embraced the concept of its leading retail online-to-offline (O2O) program in May 2015, as well as the “To Go Service Department,” which enabled clients to place orders for home and pick-up delivery (Reuters, 2019). Walmart China’s internet backbone sourcing approach welcomed the online retail experience, making it available in eleven nations (Reuters, 2019). In the financial year 2016, the corporation expected to commit more than $1 billion to electronic commerce (Reuters, 2019).
Vetting Suppliers and Quantitative Methods
Suppliers from China, the United Kingdom, and Canada were solicited to attend the online marketplace (Reuters, 2019). As a result, the firm’s e-commerce sales grew by 63 percent in the first quarter of 2017 and are unlikely to slow down. There are various proposals for Walmart China to participate in to maximize the procurement chain for potential development. First, while it can be difficult, leveraging technological developments for internal programs can optimize supply chain management operations. Therefore, this will be crucial when functioning on a worldwide scale to acquire products and services. Outsourcing should be contemplated to continue meeting client needs on schedule. Walmart China might continue to focus on its core competencies while outsourcing other operations to develop an efficient supply chain. Improving supplier-retailer communication will assist in minimizing inventory, increasing fulfillment and product accessibility, and maintaining a streamlined supply chain. Because the distribution chain is only as productive as its management, it is vital to benefit from every potential chance to create the best outcomes.
At first, Walmart China’s distribution network was a mess. For the transit system, this division was the most significant constraint. In many cases, only specific vendors’ deliveries would depart until the vehicle was full, which meant that businesses were unable to receive the merchandise they needed to meet client requests (Walmart, 2019). In addition, stores kept their in-house supplies excessive, which made it difficult to service lesser demand requirements (Walmart, 2019). Because other transportation modes have constraints regarding where they can travel, most things are transported using this means (Walmart, 2019). Drivers take the most direct routes to their locations and strive to drive as few empty kilometers as possible (Walmart, 2019). Nevertheless, the expense of the distance can be significant due to the various sizes and weights that would affect the capacity of vehicles.
Modes of Transport
Additionally, the emissions from the vehicles may endanger the ecosystem and so are unsustainable. Other means of transportation did not provide a high return on investment for Walmart (Walmart, 2019). For instance, while air cargo transport is swift and dependable, the cost is significantly greater. It should be noted that it is typically only suitable for lighter, expensive, and time-sensitive merchandise (Walmart, 2019). Cargo transportation is another option; however, while comparatively inexpensive, this mode of transportation is extremely sluggish, and numerous markets are inaccessible by water. Walmart is recognized for its timely deliveries; thus, this would major impact customer care (Walmart, 2019). Walmart, in my perspective, is using the proper means of transportation.
As I indicated in the preceding paragraph, the biggest hazard would be inadequately planning the shipping network for system development. As a result, as the corporation creates new storefronts and distribution hubs, the number of vehicles expected to move goods should grow in lockstep. Another possibility for growth is distribution related to product category or shipping similar goods. Therefore, this would provide the organization with an enhanced comprehension of which commodities should be sent more regularly than what is already held at the outlet. Additionally, for potential cost savings is to maintain using trucks for product transportation, but to aim to use all of the storage in the vehicles to prevent using more than required. Another suggestion is to rent private jets expressly for Walmart merchandise to ensure faster delivery. While this may incur an additional expense at first, I feel the rate of return on the investment will be enormous.
The fundamental to providing exceptional customer satisfaction is to keep commodities well-stocked and ready to meet consumer expectations. Warehousing is vital because it is where these things are received, stored, and distributed (Tan et al., 2018). Walmart China can maintain a quantity of fundamental stock of roughly 15% by employing primary product and cross-dock delivery hubs similar to Walmart’s in the United States (Tan et al., 2018). The most significant barrier in Walmart China’s storage structure was a lack of facilities to service all storefronts (Tan et al., 2018). Many vendors and customers were unwilling to use Walmart’s network due to the high storage costs. In addition to failing to satisfy the minimum order threshold, which caused suppliers to fail to deliver their obligations, their performance and customer service suffered.
The warehousing structure had to be overhauled, and vendors had to transition from direct-to-store supply to centralized shipment via a Walmart Distribution Hub. In return, the initiative enhanced customer satisfaction and experience while lowering costs (Tan et al., 2018). Although Walmart was the first leading company to expand globally, it did not do so without difficulty. Walmart has a strong consumer base in Mexico, the United Kingdom, China, Canada, and Brazil, according to (Hunt et al., 2018). Nevertheless, it was a flop in South Korea and Germany (Hunt et al., 2018). It is critical to grasp other nations’ cultural peculiarities and also their legislation and rules. Techniques that are effective in the United States of America may not be acceptable in other nations.
Due to the development of online purchasing, regular visits to physical establishments are becoming more complex. Surprisingly, Chinese customers outnumber Canadian and US consumers by 65 percent in internet purchasing (Hunter et al., 2018). In 2015, Walmart China managed eleven consumable DCs and nine dry DCs. Dry delivery services distribute dry foodstuff goods that do not require urgent attention (Hunt et al., 2018). Nonetheless, fragile DCs are a challenging area of storage and raise many difficulties. There are several dangerous items that Walmart must store because many of its stores offer mechanical services. Foods like fish, fruits, meat, vegetables, and medicine are examples of perishable commodities. Customers are first and primarily worried about their health and wellbeing when keeping these sorts of items. To avoid infection, these foodstuffs must be held at certain temperatures. If the storage facility’s temperature is not maintained, these commodities should not be marketed since someone could fall ill, resulting in a considerable medical expense and possibly a lawsuit.
Considering their sales of approximately $482 billion in 2015, Walmart China should consider numerous suggestions to ensure appropriate resource availability for possible upgrades. The firm should explore adopting automated information collection to boost production and decrease labor expenses. With several distinct SKU digits, this will help with bar code collection. According to Carter et al. (2019), an executive Vice President in procurement at a major store, quicker communication to essential stakeholders combined with prolonged transportation hours resulted in a reduction in cycle times of 11-20%.
Furthermore, Carter et al. (2019) insinuate that employing storage management programs could prove a worthwhile suggestion. This program maximizes storage efficiency and integrates all assets within warehouse operations while decreasing total operating costs. These suggestions would align with Walmart’s ongoing attempts to lower costs in its distribution chain and promote its environmental policies.
As you may have seen, Walmart China has gone to tremendous measures to optimize its supply chain. From projecting what they require in a particular geography to getting the best value while generating higher returns by regulating how their goods are transported and stored. This metamorphosis into a well-run firm was a much-needed improvement. The prior approach drove the firm to incur losses and prompted the most crucial component of the company, the client, to be dissatisfied. The external review of Walmart’s supply chain operations reveals that the firm outperforms its competitors. Moreover, there is always immense potential in any fantastic performance. To maintain an international footprint, the primary focus should be on procurement. Following that, ensuring that things are correctly sourced will assure the most efficient quality at the most appropriate pricing. Finally, to satisfy demand, you can manage your transportation to guarantee on-time deliveries with the proper volume of goods.
Changes in the management of operations and transportation will increase trading prospects across countries. When changing the supply chain technique, the critical element and objective should be optimizing effectiveness and enhancing efficiency. According to Wu et al. (2019), as leadership aims to improve supply chain operation and procedures, they should concentrate on eight significant factors: lowering supply chain expenses, increasing consumer sensitivity, and increasing delivery performance. Additionally, Wu et al. (2019) enumerate that limiting supply chain difficulty, bolstering supply chain sustainability performance, enhancing volume flexibility, boosting end-to-end awareness, and managing risk could improve supply chain operations. Delivering items on the schedule, the satisfying customer wants, and exceeding aspirations, distribution, and logistics go together.
Transportation is a costly procedure, but excellent distribution and storage management maintain the entire system working smoothly. Inventory that is moved swiftly and effectively saves on costs of storage and keeps products on the shelf. Because Walmart China typically does not have adequate storage space, the company must manage its excess stock. Using consolidated distribution facilities would cut expenses and result in shorter processing procedures and a more structured warehousing operation.
Demand projection is equally essential as the other components, but it is far more difficult to comprehend due to its unpredictability. There are, nonetheless, techniques to enhance predicting, but it takes time, dedication, and patience. A procedure that can be monitored, reviewed and re-checked, and updated as needed must be designed. Then, at a set interval, weekly or monthly, the administration should convene to analyze and contrast the historical information required to make business choices. Estimating does not have to be complicated; rather, it should be a straightforward procedure that can be altered when new information becomes available.
Supply chain planning is fundamental to a company’s performance. It enables rapid commodity delivery at a reasonable cost. Strengthening connections and cooperation with vendors can result in increased productivity, efficiency, and profitability. Supply chain management must develop a competing foundation, such as Walmart, capable of sustaining global logistics. All of the proposals made are viable and have the potential to improve Walmart’s distribution network significantly. Walmart, since 2010 has been dubbed a persistent supply chain heavyweight and has been ranked in Gartner’s top 20 distribution networks. Additionally, the National Retail Federation (NRF) rates them worldwide as the largest retailer in global sales, owing to their well-developed supplier collaboration method, which is aided by technological innovations (FlashGlobal, 2018). The retail behemoth’s enhanced supply chain procedures result in lower costs, excellent customer experience and satisfaction, and more competitive pricing.
The only constant variable in life is transformation, and the transition is required to accomplish more extraordinary things. Walmart will flourish if it considers the adjustments that the firm’s expansion will imply for logistics. They will need a prediction that can withstand fluctuations. Because Walmart cannot execute all steps at once, it is reasonable to schedule these adjustments, and I believe the sequence of this review fits that priority plan. Finally, now that the distribution network has been reduced, you can ensure that the warehouses satisfy your requirements.
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