Politics from the Palouse to Puget Sound

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Store of the Community

"Champion the Customer" is the theme of this year's media conference.

This morning, we got a first-hand demonstration of Wal-Mart's down-to-earth management style and core competency of logistics.

This afternoon, we are hearing presentations from a variety of Wal-Mart executives showing how well they understand their customers.

Wal-Mart is NOT going upscale. They are going to stick with their "loyalist" customers. But they are going to expand their offerings to try and attract the "selective" and "skeptical" shoppers that may choose Target, Costco, or another store.

Wal-Mart's other major emphasis is tailoring their stores to the areas they are located in, not only in terms of goods sold, often targeted at particular ethic groups. In the case of Pullman, with all of our new home growth, we might get more home improvement type products.

The really interesting part of this for me was learning how Wal-Mart real estate also tries to tailor the store to the place they build. It is no longer the case that Wal-Mart tries to make every store look the same. They strongly believe in working with the community and its leadership, involving business and community leaders, so that when the Wal-Mart is built, it will feel like their Wal-Mart. You can see how this has been the case in Pullman.

There was a fascinating presentation from Margaret Garner, an minority woman whose company is building the first Wal-Mart in Chicago. She reemphasized the importance of community ownership and pride and taking a partnership approach with local government.

We got to see a variety of elevations that Wal-Mart is using or planning to use around the country. Wild stuff. It is no longer one size fits all. Aesthetics are now a major concern. Wal-Mart is definitely thinking outside the box. The Pullman Supercenter design is an example of this new thinking.

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1 comment:

Uncle Bubba said...

Great info Tom.
The BUZZ is just getting around town..... "Did you hear Tom Forbes is in Bentonville?"
By the end of the end of morning coffee tomorrow you'll be big news.
Thanks again for representing Pullman.