A Ten-Step Program For Wal-Mart

Planners are not the only ones figuring out how to respond to the challenge of 'the Biggest Box Ever Built.'

"For years, Wal-Mart's management ignored legitimate complaints, ranging from criticism about the company's lack of employee health-care benefits to labor conditions in its captive offshore factories to the very real social cost resulting from the demolishing of traditional Main Street business centers and the pandemic death of mom-and-pop retailers."

Columnist Adam Hanft offers ten initiatives that would "start to turn things around and elevate Wal-Mart to a stature in the American consciousness that mirrors its business triumph."

Among the initiatives:

"Support mom and pops.

One of the more dramatic moments of the High Cost documentary is testimony from small-town business people feeling Wal-Mart's grip around their neck. It's part of the anti-Wal-Mart folklore, and guess what, it's accurate. You do make it impossible for many small retailers to compete with you, and the decades-long march of your stores across the country has hurled thousands of them into bankruptcy.

But you don't need to be the enemy of the corner store forever. In fact, now is the time to start helping mom and pops in some imaginative ways. For example, start a referral network. Your business model is about reduced SKUs and volume. You're never going to carry the kind of items that the local, niche retailer will. You're not going to stock the hot Dutch eyeglass frames in your optical department, or Napa Valley artisanal honey in your condiment aisle, or the National Book Award poetry winner. So why not let your customers know where they can find them? You're not going to lose a sale, but you'll make a friend. Two, actually: your customers (who will appreciate the generosity of spirit behind it), and the mom and pop stores you've adopted.

You should also be reaching out to local mom and pops with free consulting advice. How can they grow their businesses on the Internet, for example? How can they get better at database marketing? Lend them your expertise and watch how your perception will improve in the communities you serve."

Thanks to The Practice of New Urbanism Listserv

Full Story: Ten Steps to Turn Around Wal-Mart, Part 1

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