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Management Information Systems at Wal-mart - Essay Example

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This research aims to evaluate and present Management Information Systems at Wal-mart. The research will begin with the brief Overview of Wal-mart, Role of Management Information Systems in Wal-mart’s success and Wal-mart’s Inventory Management System…
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Management Information Systems at Wal-mart
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Download file to see previous pages The intention of this study is Wal-mart as the largest retail company in the world that has been on the top of Fortune’s 500 list for several years. It is also the largest employer in the world. Wal-mart deals in general merchandise as well as specialized product lines such as pharmacy, tire and lube express and photo processing. Wal-mart sells high quality branded products to its customers at the lowest prices. Wal-mart achieves this seemingly contradictory combination right using advanced management information systems. In addition, it makes special long term contracts with big suppliers and removes middlemen. The basic idea behind Wal-mart’s business is discount merchandising that is keeping margins low by selling at a large discount but improving the top-line by selling a very large volume of products. In realizing Wal-mart’s corporate strategies in practice, management information systems have played the most significant role. Wal-mart’s supply chain is considered the best in the world due to a very efficient use of information technology. This is the company’s core competency. Wal-mart has been a pioneer of many supply chain management practices based on advanced information systems. The use of RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) is the biggest and most recent of these. The following sections discuss the use of management information systems used by Wal-mart and the strategic advantages derived by the company as a result of them. 3. Wal-mart’s Inventory Management System Wal-mart uses an inventory management system called Retail Link. This system allows the suppliers to have a look at the number of products of each type at the shelves in each retail store of Wal-mart at any given time. In addition, the system gives information about the sales rate for any period say an hour, a day, a week or a year. The suppliers also get real time information about the time of the day their products sell, the accompanying products which it sells and other details. All this information helps the supplier companies in efficient inventory management. In many cases, Wal-mart leaves the stock decisions entirely to the supplier companies. This saves considerable costs in administration. The inventory risks such as stock-outs are hence transferred to the suppliers. This leads to a significant cost reduction (PriceWaterHouseCoopers, 2010). 4. Channel Partnership with big companies through information systems Wal-mart has forged several strategic partnerships with major supplier companies. These partnerships have been facilitated by modern information systems and flawless execution. A prominent case study is the strategic partnership between Wal-mart and Procter & Gamble. Both the companies are major players in their sectors. They have developed a common supply chain information sharing channel to better co-ordinate the supply chain activities. What began as a data sharing activity slowly permeated through strategic, operational and tactical levels in the two organizations. For achieving their objectives, Wal-mart and P&G together came up with a data highway that allowed the companies to share information on sales at all stores, types and time of sale, shelf information and so on. This drove down costs of both companies and increase customer satisfaction. The conceptual diagram for the data highway is shown in Figure 1.4.1. Figure 1.4.1: Channel Partnership Data Highway between Wal-mart and P&G Source: Grean, Michael; Shaw, Michael J. Supply Chain Integration through Information Sharing: Channel partnership between Wal-mart and Procter & Gamble In this approach, Wal-mart used scanners inside its retail stores to study their own business. The observations were critically analyzed. P&G used consumer buying patterns and compared it with the customer information available from market research or other activities. All the information collected and analyzed by the two companies was collected. This led to ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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