Walmart has come under fire over the past few decades, mostly for not being a “union” store. However, despite all of that and some rather dreary numbers in last year’s earnings, Walmart still dreams big. The retail giant has employed massive innovation, the best logistics service known on the planet and a rather touching TV ad featuring Mike Rowe, during the Olympics. They plan on adding a number of smaller stores which are more food centered, and the new “Walmart Express” convenience-style stores into the mix.
Bill Simon, the president of Walmart US, is optimistic when he talks about they the big-box chain’s numbers. Simon and his people intend to take Walmart in a few new directions; they will add roughly 300 of the new smaller stores, while expanding their e-commerce footprint, exponentially. Walmart Internet shoppers have been steadily going over to their chief online competitor Amazon.com, so the online team is going to invest aggressively in e-commerce.
Walmart currently owns the largest trucking fleet at work in America. There are over 7000 big rigs rolling across American highways, with the Walmart logo plastered on the side. Those trucks are part of an overall logistics package, which has made Walmart the least expensive shipper – in relationship to total sales – in the world.
In fact, Walmart’s ability to deliver the goods at an amazingly impressive 1.7 percent of cost, puts their shipping executives names at the top of every large businesses’ “featured speaker” list. Even the American military, which is known as a paragon of logistic efficiency, was eager to include Walmart as part of the military’s “training with industry” program. When it comes to getting the right item to the right customer at the right time in the most efficient means possible, there is no organization on the planet which does it better than Walmart.
Walmart’s been a leading innovator in opening up communications between a retailer and its supply chain. In order to reduce costs at every opportunity, Walmart sought as much collaboration as possible with their network of global suppliers. Industry insiders have commented that the entire operation from field to retail store, operates as if it is one single firm.
Critics of the largest private sector employer in the world, oddly enough, seemed always to want to attack Walmart for their employment practices. This, despite the fact that Walmart itself has done more to lift people out of poverty, in more communities, then any single business venture in the history of man. By keeping costs and prices as low as possible, Walmart has actually put more food on the tables of poor Americans per year, than the food stamp program. The real sin Walmart committed, was to not allow unions to dig their claws into Walmart employees. Adding the gross financial drain of a union to those dreary numbers would have ended Walmart’s big dreams, years ago.
As a private-sector employer, there are no rules or laws forcing people to accept a job at Walmart. Nor have any Walmart employment managers ever engaged in arson on a church, racketeering or criminal acts of extortion, in order to force people to work for them. Philadelphia’s Ironworkers Local 401 cannot say that. In spite of that fact – and two decades of constant haranguing by the unions and their faithful mouthpieces in the media – any time a new Walmart store opens, there are a greater number of applicants per available position, than there are students applying for educations at Harvard.
Unfortunately for Walmart, big unions and big government share an exceedingly firm handshake, each dipping into the other’s pockets, quite regularly. The big labor unions contribute heavily to Democrat campaign funds, in return for which the elected Democrats award ever-growing bonuses to the union elites. That deeply financial relationship between the unions and their Democrats, guaranteed that Walmart would feel pressure to unionize.
[Watch the Mike Rowe video]
The claims that a new Walmart will undermine the “mom-and-pop” stores, has also proven to be largely untrue. Everywhere Walmart plants in new outlet, surrounding property values increase, small businesses move in and commerce thrives throughout the community. If Walmart had gone the way that the union activists demanded, it would not be able to offer its customers all of the excellent services which can be found under their roof.
Many of the services a Walmart superstore offers, like a pharmacy or new tire installation for instance, are available on Sundays. Traditionally, many of those kinds of services and businesses remained closed on a Sunday. That means additional hours of employment, on top of the obvious convenience to the consumer that brings.
After factoring in for a cut to the food stamp program and a very stormy winter – which affected every retailer in the nation – and despite all the union and political pressure, perhaps Walmart’s big dreams make sense, after all.
By Ben Gaul