Wal-Mart’s supply chain acts as if every day is Black Friday

Written by Bunga

St. George, Utah
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Image by Ken Lund
St. George is a city located in the southwestern part of the U.S. state of Utah, and the county seat of Washington County, Utah. It is the principal city of and is included in the St. George, Utah, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The city is 119 miles northeast of Las Vegas, Nevada, and 303 miles south of Salt Lake City on Interstate 15.

As of the 2010 U.S. Census, St. George had a population of 72,897. From 1990, St. George became one of the fastest-growing metropolitan areas within the United States. This trend continued through 2007, when growth slowed substantially. In 2009, the metropolitan area (defined as Washington County) had an estimated 137,473 residents.

St. George is the population and commercial center of Utah’s Dixie, a nickname given to the area when Mormon pioneers grew cotton in the warm climate. St. George’s trademark is its geology — red bluffs make up the northern part of the city with two peaks covered in lava rock in the city’s center. The northeastern edges of the Mojave Desert are visible to the south. Zion National Park can be seen to the east, and the Pine Valley Mountains loom over the city to the north and northwest. The climate has more in common with the Desert Southwest than the rest of the state, with scorching hot summers and mild, mostly snowless winters.,_Utah…

We’re pretty sure there’s a certain aspect of interchangeability among the companies listed on the Top 25 Supply Chains. Who’s to say that Apple has a better supply chain than Wal-Mart? Or that Nike’s supply chain is somehow better than’s.

Sure, there are ways to measure performance, but every company operates under different variables with different customer bases, which makes each supply chain unique in its own right. While Wal-Mart is No. 4 on that list, the advancements in supply chain solutions that the retail giant has been able to make ultimately change the entire fabric of global logistics.

It wasn’t too long ago that companies were operating with non-automated supply chains. Can you imagine? It’s a travesty by today’s standards with respect to the advances in technology and the setting of industry standards.

Without an automated supply chain, employees had to make inventory counts by hand and send them out to their suppliers. There was significant room for error—improperly dialed numbers, keystroke errors, illegible orders, etc.—and it was ultimately a huge waste of time. But that was a different time. IT solutions have changed the supply chain game entirely. Products are now able to go from raw materials to a retailer’s shelf in a matter of days.

IT solutions have upped the standard for frequency, quantity, and timing in supply chains. And for Wal-Mart, a company that services 300 million customers each year, efficiency might be the most crucial aspect of business.

The technology is ridiculous across all areas of the Wal-Mart supply chain. Individual distribution centers, for example, have benefited from the development of sortation systems, radio-frequency picking, automated cranes and miniload systems.

Industry standards have also helped Wal-Mart’s efficiency in the collaboration with its suppliers and vendors. Standardization includes things like pallet size and truck dimensions. Wal-Mart gets real-time updates from when a customer buys a product, to how long it will be before it can replace that same product on the shelves.

Basically Wal-Mart runs on an entirely different road than everyone else, a sort of information data superhighway. Wal-Mart knows literally everything that any retailer could ever want to know about one of its products.

It’s been said that if the US was ever in World War III, the first thing to be taken over by the government would be Wal-Mart’s supply chain. It has THAT kind of performance power.

But Black Friday will come long before World War III. Is Wal-Mart the type of company that worries about Black Friday? Hell no. Have you been to a Wal-Mart lately, every day is Black Friday.

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