Walmart IT Operations

by Ashish Mehta on Monday 18 April 2011, 11:58 PM | Category: Information Technology| View: 5848 views
 
 
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Introduction

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (branded as Wal-Mart) is an American public corporation that runs a chain of large, discount department stores. It is the world's largest public corporation by revenue, according to the 2008 Fortune Global 500. The company was founded by Sam Walton in 1962, incorporated on October 31, 1969, and listed on the New York Stock Exchange in 1972. Wal-Mart is the largest private employer and the largest grocery retailer in the United States. It also owns and operates the Sam's Club retail warehouses in North America. Wal-Mart operates in Mexico as Walmex, in the United Kingdom as Asda, in Japan as Seiyu, and in India as Best Price. It has wholly-owned operations in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Wal-Mart's investments outside North America have had mixed results: its operations in South America and China are highly successful, while it was forced to pull out of Germany and South Korea when ventures there were unsuccessful.Sam Walton's original Walton's Five and Dime store in Bentonville, Arkansas, now serving as the Wal-Mart Visitor's Center

Wal-Mart's operations are organized into three divisions: Wal-Mart Stores U.S., Sam's Club, and Wal-Mart International. The company does business in nine different retail formats: supercenters, food and drugs, general merchandise stores, bodegas (small markets), cash and carry stores, membership warehouse clubs, apparel stores, soft discount stores and restaurants.

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) serves customers and members more than 200 million times per week at more than 8,100 retail units under 55 different banners in 15 countries. With fiscal year 2009 sales of $401 billion, Wal-Mart employs more than 2.1 million associates worldwide. A leader in sustainability, corporate philanthropy and employment opportunity, Wal-Mart ranked first among retailers in Fortune Magazine's 2009 Most Admired Companies survey.

The company's shares began trading on OTC markets in 1970, and were listed on the New York Stock Exchange two years later. With the infusion of investor capital, the company grew to 276 stores in 11 states by the end of the decade. In 1983, the company opened its first Sam's Club membership warehouse, and in 1988 opened the first supercenter -- now the company's dominant format -- featuring a complete grocery in addition to general merchandise. Wal-Mart became an international company in 1991 when it opened its first Sam's Club near Mexico City.

 

Wal-Mart's IT Operations Analysis

Wal-Mart uses information technology to drive costs out of the supply chain. Wal-Mart, which one does not think of as a technology company, in fact is a leading force in adoption of new technologies, such as Internet-based EDI and RFID. On the other hand, if information technology is not a key element, then it should be viewed as a cost of doing business, seeking to maintain acceptable levels of service with managed levels of risk, at the lowest cost.

Wal-Mart pushed the retail industry to establish the universal bar code, which forced manufacturers to adopt common labelling. The bar allowed retailers to generate all kinds of information -- creating a subtle shift of power from manufacturers to retailers. Wal-Mart became especially good at exploiting the information behind the bar code and is considered a pioneer in developing sophisticated technology to track its inventory and cut the fat out of its supply chain.

Recently, Wal-Mart became the first major retailer to demand manufacturers use radio frequency identification technology (RFID). The technology uses radio frequencies to transmit data stored on small tags attached to pallets or individual products. RFID tags hold significantly more data than bar codes. RFID uses low-powered radio transmitters to read data stored in tags that are embedded with tiny chips and antennas. Proponents of the technology say such "smart" tags can store more detailed information than conventional bar codes, enabling retailers and manufacturers to track items at the unit level. During the first eight months of 2005, Wal-Mart experienced a 16 percent drop in out-of-stock merchandise at its RFID-equipped stores, according to a University of Arkansas study (as reported in Fortune Small Business magazine).

 

RFID tags have been available for several years, but adoption has been slow because the tags are more expensive than bar coding and because standards are lacking to ensure interoperability between tags and data readers. The Auto-ID Center is working with Uniform Code Council Inc. (UCC) in Lawrenceville, N.J., and EAN International in Brussels to develop a standardized EPC format for storing data on RFID tags.

Wal-Mart didn't say how much the effort would cost it or its suppliers or whether new systems will be needed to support the technology. But even at the 5-cents-per-tag price that Wal-Mart said it plans to seek from vendors, the cost of the tags alone would total $50 million. According to the Auto-ID Center's Web site, RFID tags typically cost at least 50 cents each, and RFID readers sell for $1,000 or more. Big companies could require thousands of readers for all their factories, warehouses and stores, the site says. Wal-Mart isn't the only retailer putting its faith in RFID. London-based Marks & Spencer PLC, one of the U.K.'s largest retailers, is rolling out RFID technology in its food supply chain operations. The project involves putting 13.56-MHz RFID tags on 3.5 million new plastic trays used to ship products, according to Keith Mahoney, the company's food logistics controller. Wal-Mart is expected to result in the deployment of nearly 1 billion RFID tags with embedded electronic product codes (EPC) for tracking and identifying items at the individual crate and pallet level.

Wal-Mart Forces RFID Adoption by 2010

Wal-Mart is stepping up pressure on suppliers to comply with its 3-year-old radio frequency identification inventory-technology mandate. The retailer says that beginning Jan. 30, it will charge suppliers a $2 fee for each pallet they ship to its Sam's Club distribution center in Texas that doesn't have an RFID tag. It seems focused on turning its 700-store Sam's Club warehouse-outlet division into an example of RFID supply chain technology in action, down to requiring item-level RFID in 22 distribution centers by 2010.

Wal-Mart chooses to use Hyperion software for merchandising and financial planning

SUNNYVALE, Calif., a global leader in business intelligence software, announced today that Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT) will utilize the industry-leading Hyperion Essbase OLAP (online analytical processing) technology to build an advanced merchandise planning and reporting system. "Wal-Mart, which is experiencing dramatic global growth, is developing a system that provides merchandisers and suppliers around the world with highly accurate financial and merchandise planning projections," said Hyperion Chairman and CEO, Jeff Rodek. "Hyperion's sophisticated Essbase technology will help Wal-Mart create a scalable system that will deliver budgeting, forecasting and planning tools to international operations. The tools will assist associates in creating and accessing forecasting analysis at the 'speed of thought.'" Technology has always been a key driver in Wal-Mart's strategy for reducing its cost of operations and achieving greater performance "We look forward to working with Wal-Mart to implement the new planning system as an effort to achieve its global expansion objectives," said Rodek.

With annual sales of $191 billion, Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. operates more than 2,600 discount stores, Supercenters and Neighbourhood Markets, and more than 480 SAM'S CLUBS in the United States. Wal-Mart employs more than 962,000 associates in the United States and 282,000 in other countries. The company's securities are listed on the New York and Pacific stock exchanges under the symbol WMT. Last year Wal-Mart associates raised and contributed more than $190 million to support communities and local non-profit organizations.             Hyperion and Essbase are registered trademarks and Hyperion Solutions is a trademark of Hyperion Solutions Corporation. All other trademarks and company names mentioned are the property of their respective owners.

Wal-Mart Retail Link : The bridge between Wal-Mart And its vendors       

 

            More and more Wal-Mart/Sam's Club are relying on their suppliers to manage their own business. Wal-Mart created, maintains and constantly enhances Retail Link in order for their suppliers to make the most informed mutually beneficial decisions. Anyone that supplies product to Wal-Mart/Sam's Club can gain access to Retail Link for FREE.

            Retail Right can assist with analyzing your Retail Link data and interpreting the results in order to build a compelling story to share with your buyer. Retail Link is vital for the success of your business at Wal-Mart and for discovering opportunities to grow your business.

Wal-Mart pilots Data-Sharing Project

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is testing data sharing between radio frequency identification (RFID) tags and automated electronic data interchange transmissions (EDI). A number of Wal-Mart suppliers are implementing the trial together with EPCGlobal Inc. RFID tags will eventually be used to trigger advanced ship notices (ASNs) through the EPC Information Services (EPCIS) network each time a supplier ships a product out the receiving dock door. This year, Wal-Mart will start using handheld RFID scanners in back rooms to identify product that needs to restock shelves.

Wal-Mart: attaining competitive advantage from information technology

The use of information technology has been an essential part of Wal-Mart's growth. A decade ago Wal-Mart trailed K-Mart, which could negotiate lower wholesale prices due to its size. Part of Wal-Mart's strategy for catching up was a point-of-sale system, a computerized system that identifies each item sold, finds its price in a computerized database, creates an accurate sales receipt for the customer, and stores this item-by-item sales information for use in analyzing sales and reordering inventory. Aside from handling information efficiently, effective use of this information helps Wal-Mart avoid overstocking by learning what merchandise is selling slowly. Wal-Mart's inventory and distribution system is a world leader. Over one 5 year period, Wal-Mart invested over $600 million in information systems.

Wal-Mart use telecommunications to link directly from its stores to its central computer system and from that system to its supplier's computers. This allows automatic reordering and better coordination. Knowing exactly what is selling well and coordinating closely with suppliers permits Wal-Mart to tie up less money in inventory than many of their competitors. At its computerized warehouses, many goods arrive and leave without ever sitting on a shelf. Only 10% of the floor space in Wal-Mart stores is used as an inventory area, compared to the 25% average for the industry.

    Wal-Mart IT operations include various other activities which includes;                             

1.    Electronic Data sharing software for ordering billing and inventory management it helps manufacturers and retailers.

2.    ERP software with a narrow process manufacturing.

3.    Program testing methodology:- testing procedures have been created to test data link or string testing and system testing must be executed to ensure job stream is correct and to locate errors.

4.    Company maintenance mgmt system packages tools for collecting analyzing and reporting data can offer insight into a process problem.

5.    Card swapping process is there for staffs daily attendance.

6.    Performance record for its employees is maintained through ERP software.

7.    i-talks is a import file which provide mapping and connectivity in the software for maintaining records.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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