walmart - A New Supply Chain Forged Computerworld IDG...

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IDG Network: Login Register Computerworld > Return to story A New Supply Chain Forged Wal-Mart put intelligence in its inventory and recognized the value of sharing data. News Story by Amy Helen Johnson SEPTEMBER 30, 2002 (COMPUTERWORLD) - Being a supplier to Wal-Mart is a two- edged sword," says Joseph R. Eckroth Jr., CIO at Mattel Inc. "They're a phenomenal channel but a tough customer. They demand excellence." It's a lesson that the El Segundo, Calif.-based toy manufacturer and thousands of other suppliers learned as the world's Page 1 of 5 A New Supply Chain Forged - Computerworld 1/11/2006 http://www.computerworld.com/printthis/2002/0,4814,74647,00.html
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largest retailer, Wal-Mart Stores Inc., built an inventory and supply chain management system that changed the face of business. By investing early and heavily in cutting-edge technology to identify and track sales on the individual item level, the Bentonville, Ark.- based retail giant made its IT infrastructure a key competitive advantage that has been studied and copied by companies around the world. "We view Wal-Mart as the best supply chain operator of all time," says Pete Abell, retail research director at high-tech consultancy AMR Research Inc. in Boston. Abell says he expects the company to remain in the vanguard. "Wal-Mart is evolving; they're not standing still," he says. The company is still pushing the limits of supply chain management, he says, searching for and supporting better technology that promises to make its IT infrastructure more efficient. Radio frequency identification (RFID) microchips, for example, may replace bar codes and security tags with a combination technology that costs less money. Sam's Vision Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton first explored the idea of using computers to handle inventory in each store in the mid-1960s. But databases made only the analysis part easier; counting stock, a manual chore, was still a headache. That headache didn't ease until the early 1980s, when retailers put into general use a way to electronically identify items. That was the genesis of the stock keeping unit, or SKU, and the standardized bar code. The original idea for a machine-readable encoded identification symbol appeared
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walmart - A New Supply Chain Forged Computerworld IDG...

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