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Wal-Mart Information Technology Systems Support - Case Study Example

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The goal of this study is to examine the innovations brought in Wal-Mart Service Network by Information Technology that influence basic customer service, attributes of availability, operational performance, service reliability as well as overall efficiency…
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Wal-Mart Information Technology Systems Support
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With headquarter in Bentonville, Arkansas; Wal-Mart is today the world’s largest retail store with over, 11,000 stores in 27 countries around the world. By revenue, it is the world’s largest company with 2.2 million employees. Running such a huge company requires a flawless information system. Wal-Mart’s IT system is so extensive that it comes second to that of the Pentagon by size. The system tracks 690 million items that are sold across all Wal-Mart stores in real-time. This rapid communication system is pivotal to the company’s success because, at any moment, the company has information on its stock levels and the specific sale of each product on their shelves.
A purchase at any store is reflected at the nerve centre within 15 minutes and within an hour, the company has a complete picture of its sales including which among the 690 million items across its stores sell the most. This clarity in the company’s performance in real-time is responsible for seamless operations on such a grand scale. Cash register receipts, for example, are backed up in the system and retained for two years. Having such a rich pool of data on shoppers helps Wal-Mart know their customer’s buying trends are enabling the company to treat each of their hundreds of million customers as individuals. The sales statistics of products at Wal-Mart are monitored to the last item, something that gives the company an edge over its competitors because improvements bases on this data can be made in the shortest time possible.
The Wal-Mart system even goes further to track weather and matches that data with buying patterns. This information allows the retailer to place enough orders for items purchased during a hurricane, for example so that by the time such a disaster hits, shoppers have enough supply of the much-needed items. Another unique aspect of the Wal-Mart system is its ability to be shared to a limited extent, with suppliers. This IT system has a provider link that shows them the position of their items in real-time at all stores across the world where such products are stocked. With this data, suppliers can make product flows such that the right products are delivered to the right store in time. Having their systems opened up to suppliers brings trust between them and the company as they can transparently monitor the performance of their products from the comfort of their respective premises.
In managing the massive logistics at Wal-Mart, this IT system takes the lead at ensuring efficiency. The system organises specific request from stores which is then distributed at the company’s warehouse. The specific requests are relayed through this system and dispatched via the conveyor belt at what point each item is scanned for information on product details and destination stores. By the time these are loaded in transport trucks, information on what they are and where they are headed are visible to managers in real-time.
The IT system at Wal-Mart is clearly responsible for the results at the giant retailer. From internal stock management that is up to date at any particular moment, to supplier’s ability to monitor the performance of their products and re-supply at the right time, this system is the backbone of the company without which, the good results may not be possible.
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