Wal-Mart Product Design and Decision Making

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Introduction

Wal-Mart is among the largest retailer of goods in America, and the most profitable business because it successfully implemented several strategies ‘which made the company can maintain a competitive advantage. It was the first company to implement a self-service business, developed by the grocery chains to general merchandise. Through the use of information technology, Wal-Mart tracks its product movement and adjusts the record so that it matches the local demand of the products. Wal-Mart combined information technology centers for products in the stores and distribution centers to reduce the number of products in the stores. Wal-Mart managers make better use of information and knowledge at their disposal to understand how cognitive biases result in negative decision-making (Krishnan & Ulrich, 2001).

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What are a Product design and its application in decision-making?

Product design is the process of coming up with new ideas and strategies to improve the efficiency of the existing products. It is a knowledge-intensive task that has become increasingly in today’s international competitive environment. Product design determines the characteristics, performance, and features of the products consumers need. The main objective of product design is to develop a product with practical value and appears to customer’s affordable price within a reasonable time. Wal-Mart maintains lower costs of products by ensuring that the products being sold maintain high quality and lower cost materials. Customers are demanding change in products, and there is a greater passion for quality products with shorter product life cycles. As Wal-Mart outsources the production, they kindly ask the suppliers to participate in product design. This is essential because there may be a key design interface, which must be managed properly to ensure cost-effectiveness and appropriate designs. Wal-Mart products order is straightforward and fast because the buyer in most cases tests the product while in the store. The design of a consumer product is not only the factory-made cost but also the dominance of the quality and service delivered and how well they meet customer expectations (Koufteros & Vonderembse, 2005).

Wal-Mart sustains its competitive edge by staying ahead of others in designing and delivering products in a new fashion. Wal-Mart products can be identified by their design. Products sold by Wal-Mart have definite and non-measurable attributes, and both of them have to be considered while preparing a draft plan for the products. Having scored on this benefit Wal-Mart requires formulating its product design and deciding on the most influential factor of cost. The consumer marketplace is changing frequently; the product and design should also change with time. There is considerable uncertainty regarding the design and judgment on whether to stick to the same pattern or modify it as per consumer preferences so that products can deliver value. There is uncertainty in designing performance levels, what customer expects, and even in the final goals for the design. Product requires a change in form and to be launched straight away so that it reaches the shelves and becomes available to all Wal-Mart stores (Koufteros, Vonderembse & Doll, 2001).

What are the Product Life Cycles in Wal-Mart?

The life cycle is the time from the product’s first launch into the market until it withdraws from the market. These activities help the company to know the exact time to introduce and remove a product from the market, compare product placement in the market, and product success. The product life cycle has five key steps: product development, product introduction into the market, product maturity, and lastly product decline. Product development starts when a company develops a new product idea. The product must pass through a test market, during this time there is no transaction, and the company spends a lot of money. During the introduction phase, a lot of money is needed for product promotion and advertising. Product pricing is the crucial aspect during this development stage product must become competitive, and the buyer will automatically acquire the new product at a high price. The growth phase provides product satisfaction and appreciation with the market (Gerwin & Barrowman, 2002).

It is the opportunity to gain market share, Wal-Mart shows the product it offers and differentiates them from the rival products, modifying the products and product protection by Licenses and copyrights. This is the period when the product gains customer’s confidence through the product availability to the market, providing discount and product cost. This process allows the product to mature, and it is a period of high sales and returns. Wal-Mart has achieved this, that is why it enjoys the most profitable period. It has multi-distribution channels which offer back distribution ways. Product is usually in a decline phase when the maintenance cost of the product is high than the initial profit gained. It is extremely difficult for a company to understand the declining signal of the product. Wal-Mart provides are fast-moving consumer goods, which are durables and groceries, and have short ledge lives. The life cycles of products at Wal-Mart are varying from 2 months to 2 years (Koufteros & Vonderembse, 2005).

What are the concerns expected during Product Development?

There are several issues ‘which must be tackled during product development in Wal-Mart and any other organization. The change in demand for a product over a long time perhaps affects the product life cycle. The duration of the product is hard to predict. These issues arise not only from handling the wide variety of products point of view, but continually striving for an error-free product, and creating high customer satisfaction. The market adjusts to meet the ever-changing and unpredictable consumer market. Market mix consideration should be appropriate for the firm, so that product growth adjusts. This will help in supporting the advantage of development product issues. A company needs to know the product behavior and analysis competitor strategies. When a new product is introduced to the market, its profit is less because of the lower price to attract more customers, and this results in a lower profit than the old product. During the product launch, the company must ensure that no delay or incorrect merchandising and a wrong price. Wal-Mart usually gets the product on the shelf quickly at an affordable price (Hong & Schniederjans, 2000).

Conclusion

Product design and decision-making are critical for the success of any company. They drastically transform the company’s perspective regarding maintaining a competitive edge over its rival. Wal-Mart leadership has emphasized “in innovation” to bring new products ‘which consumer need’. Wal-Mart has been able to sell products that sustain people and their environment through the support of customers and communities around the world and product decisions are fast. It is straightforward to place a new product on the market and the product can be tested while it is on the shelves (Gerwin & Barrowman, 2002).

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References

Gerwin, D., & Barrowman, N. J. (2002). An Evaluation of Research on Integrated Product Development. Management Science, 48(7), 938–953.

Hong, S. K., & Schniederjans, M. J. (2000). Balancing Concurrent Engineering Environmental Factors for Improved Product Development Performance. International Journal of Production Research, 38(8), 1779–1800.

Koufteros, X. A., & Vonderembse, M. (2005). Internal and External Integration for Product Development: The Contingency Effects of Uncertainty, Equivocality, and Platform Strategy. Decisions Sciences, 36(1), 977–133.

Koufteros, X. A., Vonderembse, M., & Doll, W. (2001). Concurrent Engineering and Its Consequences. Journal of Operations Management, 19, 97–115.

Krishnan, V., & Ulrich, K. T. (2001). Product Development Decisions: A Review of the Literature. Management Science, 47(1), 1–21.

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