Book: The Wal-Mart Effect by Charles Fishman
"Always low prices. Always"
It is that mission statement that forces Wal-Mart employees and suppliers to continue to reduce product cost in order to maintain shelf space in the Wal-Mart stores. Pare costs out of product and the retailing of that product. Not only has that Wal-Mart focus impacted their operations, it has also affected the entire retail industry -- from groceries to consumer products.
Isn't that American capitalism. Satisfy the customer's shopping goal of the lowest price. What is so bad about that. In order to achieve that, the manufacture of the consumer product is sent to another country because labor is cheaper and those countries don't have all those annoying rules about "... things like work hours, safety, overtime, breaks and days off, proper equipment, health regulations, fire exits; it’s about what a factory cannot emit into the water and air as it manufactures things, and how emissions must be treated in advance and handled."
There was a lot I knew about Wal-Mart. However, what surprised me was their size, their growth, and their sales income portion of consumer spending. Can this continue. What happens when they are the only choice. At that point they will be the "company store."
Although the book was written in 2005, the theme and the concerns of the book are still valid five years later. Pick up the book or an eBook version (my choice) for the details and statistics that will either support you in applauding the company or have you searching for alternatives -- or at least be more aware when shopping at Wal-Mart.
In the interests of disclosure: I've never been a fan of Wal-Mart. If another choice exists, I do not shop at Wal-Mart.
For more about the book: The Wal-Mart Effect Book