Wal-mart as a supply chain leader in the retail industry

Wal-mart as a supply chain leader in the retail industry. Discuss who are their major competitors today in the global marketplace?
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In today’s global competitive environment, individual companies no longer compete as autonomous entities but as supply-chain networks. Instead of brand versus brand or company versus company, it is increasingly suppliers-brand-company versus suppliers-brand-company. In this new competitive world, the success of a single business increasingly depends on management’s ability to integrate the company’s intricate network of business relationships.

Supply-chain management (SCM) offers the opportunity to capture the synergy of intra- and intercompany integration and management. SCM deals with total business-process excellence and represents a new way of managing business and relationships with other members of the supply chain.

A supply chain refers to the flow of physical goods and associated information from the source to the consumer. Key supply-chain activities include production planning, purchasing, materials management, distribution, customer service, and sales forecasting. These processes are critical to the success manufacturers, wholesalers, or service providers alike.

Electronic commerce and the Internet have fundamentally changed the nature of supply chains and have redefined how consumers learn about, select, purchase, and use products and services. The result has been the emergence of new business-to-business supply chains that are consumer-focused rather than product-focused. They also provide customized products and services.

In the traditional supply-chain model, raw material suppliers define one end of the supply chain. They were connected to manufacturers and distributors, which, in turn, were connected to a retailer and the end customer. Although the customer is the source of the profits, they were only part of the equation in this “push” model. The order and promotion process, which involves customers, retailers, distributors, and manufacturers, occurred through time-consuming paperwork. By the time customers’ needs were filtered through the agendas of all the members of the supply chain, the production cycle ended up serving suppliers every bit as much as customers.

Wal-mart as a supply chain

Driven by e-commerce’s capabilities to empower clients, most companies have moved from the traditional “push” business model, where manufacturers, suppliers, distributors, and marketers have most of the power, to a customer-driven “pull” model. This new business model is less product-centric and more directly focused on the individual consumer. As a result, the new model also indicates a shift in the balance of power from suppliers to customers.

Whereas in the old “push” model, many members of the supply chain remained relatively isolated from end users, the new “pull” model has each participant scrambling to establish direct electronic connections to the end customer. The result is that electronic supply-chain connectivity gives end customers the opportunity to become better informed through the ability to research and give direction to suppliers. The net result is that customers now have a direct voice in the functioning of the supply chain, and companies can better serve customer needs, carry less inventory, and send products to market more quickly.

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