As I impatiently waited in a never ending checkout line at my local Walmart, I got the idea for my article. Since I figured I would be in line for the next 15 minutes, I started to question a few things. Just how did Walmart become one of the largest companies in the world? Why do millions of people choose to shop there every day? What makes them so successful?
It began in 1940’s with a man named Sam Walton. He was a hard working sale associate with a passion for his job and interacting directly with customers. He was determined to take the knowledge he had learned in sales and directly apply it one day by opening and running his own store. He later made this dream a reality and opened his first Ben Franklin store. Sam ran his business with a simple idea, he wanted the cheapest prices from suppliers and wholesalers so he could sell those products to his customers at the cheapest price available. This philosophy and way of thinking would eventually become the basis of his multi-billion dollar company. one.walmart.com
Sam focused on providing an extensive array of goods and merchandise at discounted prices to his consumers in the attempt to keep his stores open longer than his competitors. His lower-priced strategies allowed him to drive up sales and negotiate lower prices. A combination of his location and price strategies made him a top seller in the region, which convinced him to expand and open a new type of store.
Having strong success with their numerous Ben Franklin stores, Sam and his wife Helen opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Ark. He transferred over his same ideas from his previous stores to his own brand stores. His determination and focus on controlling costs in order to provide the lowest prices for his customers became the foundation and heart of Walmart, which would eventually become one of the biggest retailers in the world.
His stores consistently worked hard to keep costs low and providing the best service for his customers. The result was coined the Walmart effect. By the first year they had opened 6 stores, by year two they added 14, and the end of 1980, Walton had 276 stores and would soon be opening 100 stores a year. Fast-forward to 1985, Forbes magazine announced Sam Walton the richest man in America, with an estimated worth of $2.8 billion. By 1990, Walmart had become the largest retailer in the United States. Sam never took his success for granted and was grateful for every achievement he accomplished. On April 5, 1992, Sam passed away of bone cancer. At the time of his death, he had a net worth of $25 billion. After his death the company continued to operate with the same principles and honor Sam instilled years ago.
It is hard to grasp what Sam accomplished over his lifetime. Walmart has 6,689 stores in 15 countries and over 2 million employees/workers in the United States and overseas. Because of the company’s enormity, its business model has a huge influence globally on workers, communities, and other businesses. Walmart International currently includes a variety of different stores, membership clubs and restaurants in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, China, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Germany, Guatemala, Honduras, Japan, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico, South Korea and the United Kingdom. Walmart has grown up to 2,400 stores in 15 markets outside the US. They have globalized and expanded their brand, proving that Sam’s idea of saving money and having the lowest prices can be successful all around the world.