right_division Green SCM Distribution
Bookmark us
SCDigest Logo

Focus: Sourcing/Procurement

Feature Article from Our Sourcing and Procurement Subject Area - See All

From SCDigest's On-Target e-Magazine

- Aug, 21, 2013 -

Supply Chain News: What Walmart Execs Wished their Suppliers Knew


Interesting Video Interview with Walmart Buyers Shares Insight Applicable for Procurment Managers in Any Sector


SDigest Editorial Staff 


Recently, an interesting on-line video broadcast called Saturday Morning Meeting, produced by the web site, featured two senior merchandising directors from Walmart and their views on a number of supplier issues (the weekly broadcast focuses on Walmart related topics).

SCDigest Says:


"As a buyer you have to sit back and say, 'That's what it means to you.' But what does it mean to me?."


Darrin Robbins, Walmart

What Do You Say?
Click Here to Send Us Your Comments
Click Here to See Reader Feedback

Host Derek Ridenoure took Walmart's very articulate Zach Simpson and Darrin Robbins through several questions, and their answers should be interesting not only to other retailers and consumer goods manufacturers, but procurement managers and buyers in almost any sector.

First, regarding biggest challenges right now in terms of suppliers, Simpson said it was "Chasing real incremental value. There's a lot of great ideas out there, but when I do the math on them, they are just not going to move the needle," which it becomes clear is a big challenge now for a company the size of Walmart.

Robbins iterated similar theme: "When you [a vendor] come in and sit with a buyer, and you've got this grand proposal, and maybe it's a new feature, and the vendor says I've got this pallet of X, and I think it's going to do fantastic in the month of November, it's going to be this amount of sales, it's going to grow the number, this is the value - as a buyer you have to sit back and say, 'That's what it means to you.' But what does it mean to me? And transference through me, what does it mean to the customer?"

He continued: "Am I just going to put this feature out there, and it's just going to suck the volume from these other suppliers into you, and truly it's indifferent to Walmart and the customer when it's all said and done?"

He said vendors need to well understand how new products or features will make the category and space more productive than it is today.

"It's not how much more you can sell, it's how much more we can sell than we could have otherwise," Robbins added.

Robbins also said there is too often a lack of collaboration coming from vendors, not of the fancy CPFR type, but just basic communications.

"Don't be afraid to pick up the phone," Robbins said. "If you see a problem, if you have a problem with your business, make it heard, especially if it's something that's material.

"If you have in-stock problems that are just continually perpetuating, they're not getting fixed and we have issues with it, raise your hand, talk about it, bubble it up, so that we know about it so that we can fix it," he continued. "If we don't know about it, we can't fix it.

(Sourcing and Procurement Article Continues Below)



Later, host Ridenoure made the point that in some cases Walmart buyers may be managing 400 vendors - and that the idea that those buyers can be talking to both 400 vendor account managers and 400 replenishment managers was just not realistic - something vendors need to consider in their own plans for Walmart and maybe others.


From Left to Right: Darrin Robbins, Zach Simpson, Host Dwerek Ridenoure


Simpson said Walmart's focus now is on more tailored products and assortments for different stores and regions - something suppliers don't often understand. They often focus on national products.

"4000-store features are great, and they move the needle for your organization, but I've got to become more relevant, and I've got to use more precise tactics in order for us to move the needle going forward," Simpson said.

He continued: "The genesis of it has to be in those vendor meetings where we're building a culture of Yea, we're going to have some national features, but also where are the mutually exclusive store groups where I can hit say a dominant Hispanic store and begin on our side to communicate and execute it effectively, and on the vendor side monetize it and understand the returns that we're getting off of those features relative to how they would have performed in a different store profile."

We'll continue highlights of this interview next week.


Any reaction to these thoughts from senior Walmart merchandising executives? Let us know your thoughts at the Feedback section below.

Recent Feedback


No Feedback on this article yet