10 Ways Walmart Changed the World (Time)

Walmart Turns 50Fifty years ago today the business world changed when Sam Walton opened the first Walmart store in Arkansas. What has transpired since that first store is nothing short of astounding. Today, the company is a behemoth that dominates retailing. For instance, Walmart’s sales exceed $1.2 billion per day. In the U.S., more than 140 million customers shop at Walmart each week. And if those statistics were not amazing, then consider that Walmart employs over 2 million workers making it the world’s largest private employer.

But leading in retail sales volume, customer counts and payroll size are not the only significant achievements for Walmart. As discussed in this story, the company’s influence on other business functions is also impressive. For instance, Walmart often is credited with changing the relationship between suppliers and retailers. Their requirement that suppliers become more involved in managing their product’s inventory, is a key reason supply chain management has evolved into a critical business function. Walmart also is credited with helping heighten the retailing industry’s awareness of the environmental impact of the products they use and also the products they sell.

Chasing China's Shoppers (Wall Street Journal)

Marketing Strategy in ChinaBy now, most leading companies realize they can no longer ignore the Chinese market. While it is currently a significant market in terms of the number of customers, its potential to grow in terms of purchasing volume is even more significant as the income of Chinese consumers continues to rise. However, a large number of U.S. and European companies have experienced difficulty tapping into this market. Many seem to view China as just another foreign market, and do not seem to offer the Chinese market the special attention many business experts believe it deserves.

One of the biggest reasons foreign companies have been slow to gain traction in China is that many entered the market using the same marketing techniques they use in their home markets. This is so-called, standardization approach to international marketing, tends to be a much easier and less costly way to enter markets as much of the decision elements of the strategy are already laid out. This approach contrasts with the adaptation strategy, where marketers need to undertake in-depth analysis of a market and then adjust their marketing strategy to the unique elements of each market. As might be expected, the adaptation approach is more expensive and time consuming.

Small Firms' Big Customers Are Slow to Pay (Wall Street Journal)

Receiving PaymentGetting to the point where a marketer convinces a buyer to make a purchase is often an exhausting experience. This is especially the case for business-to-business transactions, where dealing with customers often requires several key business decisions be made and a few unexpected hurdles to climb over before the customer agrees to buy. It is no wonder marketers selling to other businesses often feel a tremendous sense of relief and satisfactions once the order is placed. For any company that has obtained a buyers’ commitment to purchase, the time and energy spent leading up to the sale certainly gives good reason to celebrate.

Unfortunately, such celebrations may be premature. Why? Because a sale is not considered complete until the buyer makes payment and, depending on the market, while receiving payment may seem like a relatively minor issue, it often ends up causing headaches as many buyers are slow to pay. Consequently, experienced marketers often learn that obtaining payment requires almost as much effort as the sale itself.

7-Eleven Finds a Niche by Adapting to Indonesian Ways (New York Times)

7-ElevenOne of the underlying tenets of marketing states that marketers must fully understand that success will only be realized if an organization provides customers with something they truly want.  Understanding this is especially important since most customers are willing to try out new things either because they are naturally curious or because they have been influenced to do so by others.  The effect is that customer retention is often extremely challenging as customers want to explore other products.

While on this surface the need for understanding what customers want appears to be a pretty simple concept, in reality it is something that is very difficult to master for several reasons.  First, determining what customers want is among the most difficult tasks that face marketers.  For some, this is because they lack the research skills needed to find out what customers want.  But, more likely, it is difficult because customers are not always good at providing much information since they are often not quite sure what they want until they have it.

For Oreo, Cadbury and Ritz, a New Parent Company (New York Times)

New Company NameFollowing a long needed break to catch up on a number of projects, we are back to posting about marketing issues that are making news.  We resume our posts by taking a look at the importance of developing good names.  As we note in our Product Decisions tutorial, selecting the name for products is a critical decision for nearly all firms.  Among other things, an effective product name is an important element in how customers pass along information to other customers.  Yet, coming up with a name is not limited to products; developing a name for a company may also be important.

At one time, creating a company name was an easy process.  Many companies often took the simple approach by naming the company after the company’s founder or name it for the type of products/services they provide.  However, the simple approach to company naming is much more difficult these days for two key reasons.