The Walmart supply chain is one of the most successful in the entire world. For Walmart, a robust supply chain is not only helpful, it’s essential to the success of their business. Walmart is one of the largest retail companies in the world with over 10,000 stores worldwide; under several different brand names.
Walmart’s fulfillment strategy is designed to cater to the masses by providing a huge selection of products at affordable pricing. By streamlining their supply chain, they’ve been able to stay competitive and keep prices down. This is even true as they’ve expanded their e-commerce offerings during the course of the pandemic.
In this article, we’ll take a look at why Walmart’s supply chain works so well; as well as how you can implement some of their strategies in your own business.
Why Walmart’s Supply Chain is So Successful
In order to grow into the massive company that they are today, Walmart’s founders knew that they would need an efficient supply chain. Their current leaders have continued this tradition of investing in fulfillment and supply chain strategies with very effective results.
One of the reasons why Walmart’s supply chain is so successful is that every location has a large storage area. This enables each store to keep a huge amount of products on hand to meet customer demand. When shelves are empty, it’s easy to restock quickly and maximize sales potential.
The way Walmart runs its distribution centers is also incredibly effective. When manufacturers bring their products to Walmart’s distribution centers, they are put directly on trucks and sent to stores. Walmart has built their stores strategically around these distribution centers; which streamlines the supply chain and cuts costs while maximizing potential sales. Walmart’s suppliers use a vendor-managed inventory system to determine when they need to replenish their stock. This also cuts back on costs while still ensuring that products are effectively distributed.
Walmart’s pricing strategy also helps make its supply chain more efficient. By offering very low prices, they are able to generate consistent demand from consumers. Keeping demand consistent helps them better predict how much supply they will need; as well as avoid the challenges that come with over-or understocking products.
Walmart’s Supply Chain Management System
Walmart uses a very complex digital supply chain management system. Many aspects of their supply chain are now automated. Because of this, the retail giant is able to save time and money; while still ensuring that products get to their final destination on time.
Walmart uses a centralized database that tracks the inventory levels of every single product and every single store. They use a vendor-managed inventory system. This means their suppliers are able to monitor how many of their products are in stock; that way they can tell when they need to send more to distribution centers.
Walmart then uses this system to monitor goods as they are in transit to distribution centers and eventually to stores or even directly to customers through e-commerce channels. Their inventory system accounts for buffer inventory and anticipation inventory to ensure that shelves can always be replenished during periods of high demand.
It’s incredibly important to use a supply chain management system to keep your shelves stocked. Putting a system like this in place ensures that you’re consistently getting the right amount of product to meet demand, and helps you track it while it’s en route to your warehouse or store. An effective supply chain management system can also save your company time and money in the long run.
3 Powerful Supply Chain Methods from Walmart
There’s a lot that small and mid-size retailers can learn from Walmart when it comes to supply chains. Here are three of the most effective strategies that Walmart has used and how you can implement them in your business.
Implement Advanced Technology
Supply chain technology has evolved dramatically over the past few decades. Walmart uses automation to manage many different aspects of their supply chain. Not only does this make it much easier for them to keep their stores stocked, but it also makes things much easier for their suppliers as well.
There are many other forms of technology that you can use to improve your supply chain management strategy, including artificial intelligence and even blockchain technology. While this type of technology is a major investment up front, it can save you a significant amount of time and money in the long run. Automation can prevent costly inventory management errors, and it can also help you save money on labor costs.
Communicating with suppliers is often one of the most difficult parts of supply chain management. One of the ways that Walmart manages this is through an effective data-sharing program. Walmart tracks all of its inventory data at all of its locations. However, they also take things one step further by making this data available to all of their suppliers.
When suppliers have the inventory data they need, they can use it to manage operations much more efficiently on their end. This kind of transparency and accessibility makes it much easier for both parties to work together without any confusion or delays that could slow down the process.
Another important component of any effective supply chain management system is an efficiently run warehouse. When your warehouse is run well, it increases; the chances of products making it out onto the shelves in a timely and organized manner. All of which maximizes your sales potential.
Walmart has taken many steps over the years to make its warehouses more efficient. Their distribution center model ensures that products aren’t sitting in warehouses for too long, if at all. By loading products onto trucks shortly after suppliers make their deliveries, Walmart is able to get each item to its final destination more quickly and prevent delays.
As Walmart has started to focus more on e-commerce, they have also made major investments in their warehouses to ensure effective distribution. They have increased the use of robots and automation systems in their warehouses, which means they require fewer workers to run efficiently. They also store products in ways that ensure they can be easily tracked and organized.
What We Can Learn From Walmart’s Supply Chain
As one of the biggest retailers in the world, Walmart has no room for error when it comes to its supply chain. Making every aspect of the supply chain as efficient as possible is a must, and Walmart has cut out many unnecessary steps in order to get products to their customers in a more efficient way.