Walmart - who would expect the world’s largest retailer to provide its customers with even more discounts? But as you will see, coupons fit Sam Walton’s business philosophy from the very start.
An Amazing American Success Story:
On May 9, 1950, 32 year old Sam Walton with only 5 years of variety store experience purchased a store from Luther E. Harrison in Bentonville, Arkansas and opened Walton's 5 & 10. No one in the sleepy little Ozark Mountain town of 2,900 could have imagined that Bentonville would become the headquarters for the world's largest retailer.
Sam’s business model was simple - keep the shelves stocked with a wide range of products, make your profit margin slightly smaller than your competitors and incentivize your employees so they stay loyal and focused on the store’s success. Five years after he took over the store it’s sales had risen from $72,000 to $250,000!
By 1962, Walton and his brother owned 16 variety stores. During the course of these 12 years he came to believe that Americans wanted a new type of discount store and he and his wife opened the first Walmart store in Rogers, Arkansas. His “read” on the culture and his timing were remarkable; 1962 was also the opening year for Kmart and Target as well.
Fiscally conservative, Walton’s chain of stores only grew to 15 by 1972. That was the year that Walmart’s stock became publicly available and generated significant capital. With the sudden cash infusion from the sale of stocks, the chain grew to 276 stores in the next 8 years!
From 1980 to 1989, sales had grown from $1 billion to $26 billion with 1,402 stores. Today, there are nearly 10,000 stores in 28 countries employing over 2 million associates and serving over 176 million customers. Walmart's coupons have been part of this phenomenal success for years.
In Sam Walton’s own words, "… if you think about it from the point of view of the customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; and a pleasant shopping experience. You love it when a store exceeds your expectations, and you hate it when a store inconveniences you, gives you a hard time, or pretends you're invisible." No wonder coupons have been a long-term part of Walmart's operation.
As the world's biggest retailer, the Company gets lots of attention - not all of it good - but there are some amazing “rest of the story” news stories some of which are here.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005, Sam's company was able to use its logistical efficiency in organizing a rapid response to the disaster, donating $20 million in cash, 1,500 truckloads of free merchandise, food for 100,000 meals, as well as the promise of a job for every one of its displaced workers.
In October 2005, the company announced it would implement several environmental measures to increase energy efficiency. The primary goals included spending $500 million a year to increase fuel efficiency in Walmart's truck fleet by 25% over three years and double it within ten, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% in seven years, reduce energy use at stores by 30%, and cut solid waste from U.S. stores and Sam's Clubs by 25% in three years. CEO Lee Scott said that Walmart's goal was to be a "good steward for the environment" and ultimately use only renewable energy sources and produce zero waste.
On March 20, 2009, the Company announced that it is paying a combined $933.6 million in bonuses to every full and part time hourly worker of the company. An additional $788.8 million in profit sharing, 401(k)contributions, and hundreds of millions of dollars in merchandise discounts and contributions to the employees' stock purchase plan is also included in this plan. While the economy at large was in an ongoing recession, the largest retailer in the U.S. reported solid financial figures for the most recent fiscal year (ending January 31, 2009), with $401.2 billion in net sales, a gain of 7.2% from the prior year.