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Inside Wal-Mart IT

michael posted more than 9 years ago | from the jar-of-pickles-99-cents dept.

Businesses 409

prostoalex writes "Information Week magazine takes a look at Wal-Mart's IT infrastructure. Wal-Mart's yearly global sales are quoted at more than 250 billion dollars, their IT spending is less than 1% of that. At the same time, the company manages to pursue new venues in optimizing retail with the wonders of technology. And what about outsourcing IT for the sake of optimization? 'We'd be nuts to outsource,' a top IT executive at Wal-Mart replies."

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frist walmart post (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420650)

bill frist rocks

proft? (0)

wkohse (785174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420655)

how much of that is profit though?

Not the point (3, Interesting)

ThomasFlip (669988) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420731)

Thats not the point. Thats A LOT of money. Thats more then most countries make, really. BTW, I believe last year they made somewhere between 5 - 10 billion profit.

Re:proft? (1)

wkohse (785174) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420968)

You can make it the point...the reason they dont outsource could be because their profit margin is so huge and they dont see a need to do so.

one of my friends works there (5, Informative)

dwgranth (578126) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420677)

... and she says its hell on wheels.. and they don't get paid well according to industry standards... i guess thats the walmart way.. makem work hard, dont pay too much, $$$profit

Re:one of my friends works there (3, Insightful)

Chess_the_cat (653159) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420729)

Wal-Mart employs 950 000 people so I'd think they pretty much set the standard for their industry rather than paying above or below it.

Re:one of my friends works there (2, Interesting)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420944)

"Wal-Mart employs 950 000 people so I'd think they pretty much set the standard for their industry rather than paying above or below it."

So you think that 950k people is the majority of the IT infrastructure the world over? Wal-Mart isn't setting standards, they're just dragging the average down.

Re:one of my friends works there (5, Interesting)

cjsnell (5825) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420844)

I applied for an IT job there about five years ago and one of their managers called me back. Their salary range was definitely below industry standards but he said something funny which really turned me off on the job: this position required a lot of travel and when they travelled, they slept two people in the same hotel room because "it's the Wal-Mart way".

Me: No thanks.

Re:one of my friends works there (1, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421068)

Well, that could be a good thing, but given the appearance of the average wal-mart employee, and the average male:female ratio in the industry, I can see how it would be a turnoff for anyone other than a homosexual chubby chaser.

Re:one of my friends works there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10421131)

Breaking down the boundaries between your personal life and the company have always been the hallmark of a corporate cult.

Re:one of my friends works there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420886)

Welcome to capitalism 101. If she doesn't like it, rumor has it that McD's is hiring.

Darling Smorgrav [www.des.no]

I interned at Wal-Mart's IT department... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420973)

A few years back I had a summer internship there... and it sucked big time. Here are a few things I remember (and keep in mind it was 4-5 years ago, so things may have changed):
- everyone was required to be at work at 7:30am... the earliest you could go home was 5:30pm.
- the pay was below industry standards, but it's in Bentonville, AR, so the cost of living was pretty low, too.
- salaried employees at the home office were required to work 2 saturdays a month. IT was actually an exception to that rule, because it was understood that if you're in IT, you're already working a huge amount of overtime.
- the #1 complaint from the employees while I was there was burnout. (big surprise!)
- at the end of the week, you got an email that was copied to your manager that listed: the # of emails you'd sent and received that week both internal and external to the company, the websites you'd visited outside of the intranet, and long distance phone #'s you'd called, the length of the call, and the cost of that call to the company.

That's one of the ways they can spend only 1% of sales on IT: they monitored everything you did and made sure you weren't doing anything non-work related. They offered me a full time position after my internship, but I politely declined.

Oh, and did you know that they have a wal-mart cheer?!

Re:one of my friends works there (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10421058)

Wal-mart isn't a company, it's a cult that worships Sam Walton. Wal-mart just happens to pay its members in exchange for work.

Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (3, Insightful)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420681)

This is important news to CIOs. Walmart has traditionally been pro-business and strongly against organized labor and a "feel good" business approach. Therefore, when they don't outsource, they don't do so for the right business reasons, and CIOs elsewhere will take note. Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (4, Insightful)

Bastian (66383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420767)

Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.

The long run is nice and all, but it doesn't really matter to those of us whose lives are nasty, brutish, and, above all, short. If I lost my job to outsourcing or some other business fad and an economist came along and said, "your pain doesn't matter because things will smooth out in a decade or two," I'd probably end up doing something that would put me in jail.

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (1, Insightful)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420801)

..and what exactly _would_ they be outsourcing?

besides.. they do "outsource" on one level or another. they buy their operating systems quite probably and probably buy most of their software too instead of writing everything inhouse which would be nuts as well.

(moreover, don't they outsource stuff like cleaning anyways? so they can screw over, ie. get it cheaper than if they did themselfs and deny knowing if they caught from having used some illeagal immigrants.. also they deal largely stuff that has been made as cheaply as possible which with toys, electronics and like mean they have been imported from elsewhere. mostly it makes sense, too.).

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (4, Insightful)

srobert (4099) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420882)

"Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be."

This sort of nonsense was spouted by people who opposed the New Deal. People don't live "over the long run". They live each day. I've got bills to pay and groceries to buy NOW! Shall I tell my creditors to wait until after the long run has come and gone before I pay them. I for one will NOT be buying my groceries or any other thing from WalMart. Stick with Costco. They have deals that are just as good and are decent and respectful to their employees.

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (0, Redundant)

vijayiyer (728590) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420937)

And the New Deal was the sort of nonsense that makes me pay half of what I earn in income tax which I could otherwise use to save for a rainy day.

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (1, Insightful)

NDPTAL85 (260093) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420969)

You are lying your ass off when you say half your income is taxed. That only happens in a FEW countries in Europe.

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (1)

balloonpup (462282) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421066)

True enough, for me, it's 29.7% (between state, federal, social security and medicaid). However, go up a few tax brackets and it gets higher. Not to mention the taxes you pay after you get paid (sales tax, excise tax, property tax, etc).

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (1, Informative)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421116)

Most people are in the 15% federal bracket - so your minimum federal tax obligation is 30.3% including FICA before deductions. Add state taxes on top of that, then sales tax, gas tax, property tax, user fees and the like and you're approaching 50%.

Taxes in this country wouldn't be so high if the tax payers had to write a check at the end of each year for what they're nickle and dimed on during the course of that year.

Re:Not outsourcing - from a business point of view (1)

hype7 (239530) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420917)

Over the long run, the market will do the right thing if you let it be.

Hmm. I wonder how much longer we'll see MS as a staple of corporate desktops everywhere then?

-- james
PS And don't go posting that link about Bill Gates predicting Windows will be gone in 10 years that was on the main page earlier today. 1) he has a vested interest in saying that (EU antitrust), and 2) we all know how good Billy boy is at predictions (640k of memory, anyone?)

(+1, We Hope You're Right) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420945)

The comment assumes that any company C which chooses to outsource would benefit (or be detrimented) in exact proportion to every other company C' which made the decision in the same direction.

Outsourcing is not an all-or-nothing proposition and simply WILL make sense for certain business models (or even specific services or product lines) and not for others. That it makes sense for one does not mean it makes sense for all and that it doesn't make sense for one doesn't mean it doesn't make sense for any.

If I'm going to be treated like a product... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420966)

The market is like herding cats - it doesn't "do the right thing" - it does what's profitable. And what has ever been profitable is wage slavery.

Obligatory reference to fictional competitors (5, Funny)

discord5 (798235) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420686)

Shop smart, shop S-Mart

Re:Obligatory reference to fictional competitors (2, Informative)

faedle (114018) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420818)

S-Mart fictional?

Not in California's Central Valley. Long-time grocery chain "Save Mart" now calls themselves "S-Mart" in a number of places..

Re:Obligatory reference to fictional competitors (2, Funny)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420907)

Get back to us when they sell rifles and trampolines.

Re:Obligatory reference to fictional competitors (1)

faedle (114018) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420942)

Yeah, but not all Wal-Marts sell rifles and trampolines, either. Many California stores don't sell rifles, and the new "neighborhood" stores generally don't have sporting goods.

And, there's at least one S-Mart store that does sell some sporting goods.. although, I doubt rifles.

Head of Walmart IT (4, Interesting)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420693)

It is interesting the head of their IT has a degree in architecture, I wonder what the stats are for IT in general, especially for sysadmin type positions? I.E. Degree in CS (or related), non-CS degree, no degree.

Head of Walmart IT-logistics. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420948)

"It is interesting the head of their IT has a degree in architecture"

What!? I thought we were all suppose to be qualified in CS? This is an outrage (much like certification), she must have a CS and be doing it for the "love".

Anyway with that out of the way. I recommend people read "Moving mountains: Lessons in leadership and logistics from the gulf war" by Lt General William G. Pagonis.

Logistics is were things are at, opportunity and money.

Re:Head of Walmart IT (1)

sloshr (608388) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420951)

director of information security is not equal to head of their IT .

Re:Head of Walmart IT (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421074)

Ooops. But hey at least I read the article, I just didn't copy from it very well :-)

Considering... (3, Interesting)

Safety Cap (253500) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420955)

that degrees mean absolutely nothing in the real world*, what does it matter?

The people in charge of Wally*Mart most certainly received their degrees decades ago. I doubt there are any PDP-11s--or whatever they programmed their PIC projects on--still in use today. I also doubt they use Pascal/Fortran on the job, but your sundry 80s BS CS has some of that on her transcript.


* PHBs and other people who don't know how to interview/judge an applicant's stillset abscribe "value" to a degree, but if you asked them exactly how that applies to the job at hand, you'd get nothing more than vapor lock in return.

Re:Considering... (1)

nizo (81281) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421114)

Well I was hoping someone knew of a survey like this somewhere. It would be nice if the PHBs of the world could pick up their favorite rag with a story about how 78% of IT professionals don't have a degree in CS (or whatever the numbers are, still haven't found any credible surveys yet). Then again, with my luck they would read that as, "Wow, look how much money I could save by outsourcing these jobs to India" rather than "maybe a degree in CS shouldn't be required for my open IT jobs".

Re:Head of Walmart IT (1)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420957)

...high school diploma, no high school diploma, kindergarten certificate of completion, no kindergarten certificate of completion...

Nutty Butty (5, Funny)

Nodatadj (28279) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420699)

"We'd be nuts to outsource..." ... "because we already have all the cheap illegal immigrant labor we need right here"

Re:Nutty Butty (1)

techno-vampire (666512) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420851)

When you outsource, you expect to pay less than if you do the job in house. Of course, the outsourcing firm takes their profit off the top, so the people doing the work get less. Considering how cheap Wall-Mart is already, can you imagine them finding anybody willing to work for what they'd pay through an outsource firm? Of course they won't outsource; nobody's stupid enough to work for that little.

Re:Nutty Butty (5, Insightful)

t35t0r (751958) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420887)

or .."We'd be nuts to outsource..." .."because 90% of our products are from China anyways!"

Outsource? (1)

Herkum01 (592704) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420700)

Wal-Mart outsources it's distribution network to other companies. Noone is going to do the IT distribution systems better than Wal-Mart.

IT outsourcing (5, Insightful)

toupsie (88295) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420707)

In my career in IT, I have always noticed that IT Outsourcing is always the last grasp for profitability taken by a management infrastructure that cannot figure out how to make the core business profitable. If only they could achieve more revenue they would not look at their backbone for sacrifices. A strong and stable business never eats at its internal support system to achieve success, it grows and expands its ability to capture new customers and markets. Otherwise it builds its house on a foundation of clay.

Walmart appears to know this reality.

Re:IT outsourcing (5, Interesting)

dwgranth (578126) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420751)

amen.. if i hadn't posted earlier i would have given you some of my mod points... couldn't be a truer statement. As for the company I work for... we are starting to outsource (b/c we havent been too profitable lately.. so we have to run leaner/meaner.. quite literally). And this is after the first "successful" outsourcing project hasn't accomplished squat.. service levels are down in that area, and people are generally unhappy about the support/service they are getting from our currently outsourced division. But of course it was a success and so they are moving forward. I wish my company would learn...

Re:IT outsourcing (3, Insightful)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420788)

Believe me, the trend now goes backwards, but a year ago in the total outsourcing craze, evenone of the biggest Banks of germany tried and failed miserably. They rowed back this year. And the bank was one of the biggest ones of Germany, and was far from losing money.

Another example might be HP which is considered to be a really big outsourcer (while trying to gather customers for being an outsource resource supplier) HP as well is far from losing money, although the company goes down the drain slowly bug visibly.

Re:IT outsourcing (3, Interesting)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421039)

Very, very true. You are definitely desperately cutting costs if you are doing so through outsourcing. In my company, it was similar, though it was also because senior management looked at the software development payroll and saw how big it was and was misinformed about being able to get programmers in Manila to do the same work for about 10 times less. Fortunately, there was some resistance and our IT manager convinced them that outsourcing is not a solution, and if they really wanted to, they should do offshoring, but only on new projects for a business line that brings in less revenue and was high-maintenance (development-heavy) so as to "experiment" with less risk. This way, all of the developers in the U.S. stayed where they were, and new, less risky software projects were being done in Manila.

Won't outsource IT but outsource manufacturing (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420723)

Interestingly comment since they outsource a lot of manufacturing.

I've read that if you take all the manufacturing companies in China that _only_ manufacture for walmart, and count them as a single company, it would be the biggest manufacturing company in China.

Re:Won't outsource IT but outsource manufacturing (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10421098)

I've read that there are giant glass worms on mars. Guess what? Reading bullshit doesn't make it any less bullshit.

Not outsourcing! (4, Interesting)

BestNicksRTaken (582194) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420728)

Wow, this amazed me, Walmart is usually all about cutting costs, ignoring quality, overworking the staff and destroying the small business.

Maybe they just haven't got around to it yet - or they're just paying the US staff Bangalore salaries....

Re:Not outsourcing! (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420820)

They are a MERCHANT. You would expect manufacturing to be done by outside parties. Their core business is selling, not buidling.

Why be suprised? (3, Informative)

juuri (7678) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420823)

Walmart IT pays less than industry average wages with lower chances of salary advancement and absolutely tepid compensation packages for most long term employees.

That said, it is a boring stable environment that you probably couldn't ever get fired from; guess that appeals to some.

(The above based on numerous employees at IT and WalMart.com)

Why be suprised?-Unsuprising. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420967)

"That said, it is a boring stable environment that you probably couldn't ever get fired from; guess that appeals to some."

Yes! I find not getting fired very appealing.

Oh, yeah - they have it together! (2, Interesting)

CPNABEND (742114) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420733)

I've been on contract at Wal-Mart for six months. It just seems like 60 YEARS! The ISD organization is a mess, and it IS a CULTure all its own.

Linux? (1)

lawngnome (573912) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420735)

I wonder if walmart has looked into opensource options? From their business model its clear they value how much things cost... Also, with those linux workstations they sell they must have some pull with dealers...

Re:Linux? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420912)

They're intelligent enough to avoid the proprietary solutions, Linux being one of them. Remember that if you install GPL'd products you're donating $100/seat to Fidel Castro. The use, of course, *BSD.

Darling Smorgrav [www.des.no]

Re:Linux? (2, Funny)

DogDude (805747) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421030)

wonder if walmart has looked into opensource options?

Largest retailer on the planet? I'm thinking that somebody might have mentioned it to them...

From their business model its clear they value how much things cost...

And doesn't *not* choosing open source say something?

no ousourcing? yeah right (2, Interesting)

etaluclac (818307) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420740)

Sure they won't outsource for the moment. But the second that it's easy and profitable enough for them to do it, don't think that Walmart won't just take all their IT jobs to somewhere cheaper.

They run a business for the shareholders, where profit, not jingoist sentiment, rules.

Your stock will be of little comfort... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420989)

... when you're the first against the wall when the revolution comes.

"We'd be nuts!" says the guy who'd be outsourced.. (4, Interesting)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420745)

What would a top "Finance" exec have to say about it?

Well, sounds like they got their infra working (5, Interesting)

mveloso (325617) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420759)

It was maybe 2 years ago when I heard that Wal-Mart had massive system monitoring problems. They installed HP Vantage Point, then found out that it was a total piece of crap. It couldn't watch anything, much less their boxes it was installed on. I suppose they finally got all that stuff to work.

Before that, I remember hearing that Wal-Mart used to make every store identical - down to the IP addresses of the boxes. It was a great idea, until it broke all the software that used IP addresses to track state. Imagine: push software to a box, then go to the next store. But wait, the software's already been sent, so no push. Doh!

Overall, their business application people seemed really good, but their infrastructure people were less-than-stellar. It's an interesting environment nevertheless.

Oh, and they were really cheap, too. You'd think they'd understand the value of infrastructure, you know?

Re:Well, sounds like they got their infra working (1)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420776)

Duplicating the IT infrastructure in each store down to the IP addresses made sense 10 years ago before they would have been connected to the degree that they are today.

eeeeevil (5, Funny)

dirvish (574948) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420768)

In case you haven't heard, Wal-Mart is evil [alternet.org]

Re:eeeeevil? Yes. And NOT Funny. (5, Informative)

Ralph Spoilsport (673134) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421086)

Here's the article linked above. It is NOT a funny article. It is insightful and informative.

How Wal-Mart is Remaking our World

By Jim Hightower.

Posted April 26, 2002.

From union busting to Chinese sweatshops, there are a thousand reasons to worry about Wal-Mart.

Bullying people from your town to China

Corporations rule. No other institution comes close to matching the power that the 500 biggest corporations have amassed over us. The clout of all 535 members of Congress is nothing compared to the individual and collective power of these predatory behemoths that now roam the globe, working their will over all competing interests.

The aloof and pampered executives who run today's autocratic and secretive corporate states have effectively become our sovereigns. From who gets health care to who pays taxes, from what's on the news to what's in our food, they have usurped the people's democratic authority and now make these broad social decisions in private, based solely on the interests of their corporations. Their attitude was forged back in 1882, when the villainous old robber baron William Henry Vanderbilt spat out: "The public be damned! I'm working for my stockholders."

The media and politicians won't discuss this, for obvious reasons, but we must if we're actually to be a self-governing people. That's why the Lowdown is launching this occasional series of corporate profiles. And why not start with the biggest and one of the worst actors?

The beast from Bentonville

Wal-Mart is now the world's biggest corporation, having passed ExxonMobil for the top slot. It hauls off a stunning $220 billion a year from We the People (more in revenues than the entire GDP of Israel and Ireland combined).

Wal-Mart cultivates an aw-shucks, we're-just-folks-from-Arkansas image of neighborly small-town shopkeepers trying to sell stuff cheaply to you and yours. Behind its soft homespun ads, however, is what one union leader calls "this devouring beast" of a corporation that ruthlessly stomps on workers, neighborhoods, competitors, and suppliers.

Despite its claim that it slashes profits to the bone in order to deliver "Always Low Prices," Wal-Mart banks about $7 billion a year in profits, ranking it among the most profitable entities on the planet.

Of the 10 richest people in the world, five are Waltons--the ruling family of the Wal-Mart empire. S. Robson Walton is ranked by London's "Rich List 2001" as the wealthiest human on the planet, having sacked up more than $65 billion (£45.3 billion) in personal wealth and topping Bill Gates as No. 1.

Wal-Mart and the Waltons got to the top the old-fashioned way--by roughing people up. The corporate ethos emanating from the Bentonville headquarters dictates two guiding principles for all managers: extract the very last penny possible from human toil, and squeeze the last dime from every supplier.

With more than one million employees (three times more than General Motors), this far-flung retailer is the country's largest private employer, and it intends to remake the image of the American workplace in its image--which is not pretty.

Yes, there is the happy-faced "greeter" who welcomes shoppers into every store, and employees (or "associates," as the company grandiosely calls them) gather just before opening each morning for a pep rally, where they are all required to join in the Wal-Mart cheer: "Gimme a 'W!'" shouts the cheerleader; "W!" the dutiful employees respond. "Gimme an A!'" And so on.

Behind this manufactured cheerfulness, however, is the fact that the average employee makes only $15,000 a year for full-time work. Most are denied even this poverty income, for they're held to part-time work. While the company brags that 70% of its workers are full-time, at Wal-Mart "full time" is 28 hours a week, meaning they gross less than $11,000 a year.

Health-care benefits? Only if you've been there two years; then the plan hits you with such huge premiums that few can afford it--only 38% of Wal-Marters are covered.

Thinking union? Get outta here! "Wal-Mart is opposed to unionization," reads a company guidebook for supervisors. "You, as a manager, are expected to support the company's position. . . . This may mean walking a tightrope between legitimate campaigning and improper conduct."

Wal-Mart is in fact rabidly anti-union, deploying teams of union-busters from Bentonville to any spot where there's a whisper of organizing activity. "While unions might be appropriate for other companies, they have no place at Wal-Mart," a spokeswoman told a Texas Observer reporter who was covering an NLRB hearing on the company's manhandling of 11 meat-cutters who worked at a Wal-Mart Supercenter in Jacksonville, Texas.

These derring-do employees were sick of working harder and longer for the same low pay. "We signed [union] cards, and all hell broke loose," says Sidney Smith, one of the Jacksonville meat-cutters who established the first-ever Wal-Mart union in the U.S., voting in February 2000 to join the United Food and Commercial Workers. Eleven days later, Wal-Mart announced that it was closing the meat-cutting departments in all of its stores and would henceforth buy prepackaged meat elsewhere.

But the repressive company didn't stop there. As the Observer reports: "Smith was fired for theft--after a manager agreed to let him buy a box of overripe bananas for 50 cents, Smith ate one banana before paying for the box, and was judged to have stolen that banana."

Wal-Mart is an unrepentant and recidivist violator of employee rights, drawing repeated convictions, fines, and the ire of judges from coast to coast. For example, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has had to file more suits against the Bentonville billionaires club for cases of disability discrimination than any other corporation. A top EEOC lawyer told Business Week, "I have never seen this kind of blatant disregard for the law."

Likewise, a national class-action suit reveals an astonishing pattern of sexual discrimination at Wal-Mart (where 72% of the salespeople are women), charging that there is "a harsh, anti-woman culture in which complaints go unanswered and the women who make them are targeted for retaliation."

Workers' compensation laws, child-labor laws (1,400 violations in Maine alone), surveillance of employees--you name it, this corporation is a repeat offender. No wonder, then, that turnover in the stores is above 50% a year, with many stores having to replace 100% of their employees each year, and some reaching as high as a 300% turnover!

Worldwide wage-depressor

Then there's China. For years, Wal-Mart saturated the airwaves with a "We Buy American" advertising campaign, but it was nothing more than a red-white-and-blue sham. All along, the vast majority of the products it sold were from cheap-labor hell-holes, especially China. In 1998, after several exposes of this sham, the company finally dropped its "patriotism" posture and by 2001 had even moved its worldwide purchasing headquarters to China. Today, it is the largest importer of Chinese-made products in the world, buying $10 billion worth of merchandise from several thousand Chinese factories.

As Charlie Kernaghan of the National Labor Committee reports, "In country after country, factories that produce for Wal-Mart are the worst," adding that the bottom-feeding labor policy of this one corporation "is actually lowering standards in China, slashing wages and benefits, imposing long mandatory-overtime shifts, while tolerating the arbitrary firing of workers who even dare to discuss factory conditions."

Wal-Mart does not want the U.S. buying public to know that its famous low prices are the product of human misery, so while it loudly proclaims that its global suppliers must comply with a corporate "code of conduct" to treat workers decently, it strictly prohibits the disclosure of any factory names and addresses, hoping to keep independent sources from witnessing the "code" in operation.

Kernaghan's NLC, acclaimed for its fact-packed reports on global working conditions, found several Chinese factories that make the toys Americans buy for their children at Wal-Mart. Seventy-one percent of the toys sold in the U.S. come from China, and Wal-Mart now sells one out of five of the toys we buy.

NLC interviewed workers in China's Guangdong Province who toil in factories making popular action figures, dolls, and other toys sold at Wal-Mart. In "Toys of Misery," a shocking 58-page report that the establishment media ignored, NLC describes:

* 13- to 16-hour days molding, assembling, and spray-painting toys--8 a.m. to 9 p.m. or even midnight, seven days a week, with 20-hour shifts in peak season.

* Even though China's minimum wage is 31 cents an hour--which doesn't begin to cover a person's basic subsistence-level needs--these production workers are paid 13 cents an hour.

* Workers typically live in squatter shacks, seven feet by seven feet, or jammed in company dorms, with more than a dozen sharing a cubicle costing $1.95 a week for rent. They pay about $5.50 a week for lousy food. They also must pay for their own medical treatment and are fired if they are too ill to work.

* The work is literally sickening, since there's no health and safety enforcement. Workers have constant headaches and nausea from paint-dust hanging in the air; the indoor temperature tops 100 degrees; protective clothing is a joke; repetitive stress disorders are rampant; and there's no training on the health hazards of handling the plastics, glue, paint thinners, and other solvents in which these workers are immersed every day.

As for Wal-Mart's highly vaunted "code of conduct," NLC could not find a single worker who had ever seen or heard of it.

These factories employ mostly young women and teenage girls. Wal-Mart, renowned for knowing every detail of its global business operations and for calculating every penny of a product's cost, knows what goes on inside these places. Yet, when confronted with these facts, corporate honchos claim ignorance and wash their hands of the exploitation: "There will always be people who break the law," says CEO Lee Scott. "It is an issue of human greed among a few people."

Those "few people" include him, other top managers, and the Walton billionaires. Each of them not only knows about their company's exploitation, but willingly prospers from a corporate culture that demands it. "Get costs down" is Wal-Mart's mantra and modus operandi, and that translates into a crusade to stamp down the folks who produce its goods and services, shamelessly building its low-price strategy and profits on their backs.

The Wal-Mart gospel

Worse, Wal-Mart is on a messianic mission to extend its exploitative ethos to the entire business world. More than 65,000 companies supply the retailer with the stuff on its shelves, and it constantly hammers each supplier about cutting their production costs deeper and deeper in order to get cheaper wholesale prices. Some companies have to open their books so Bentonville executives can red-pencil what CEO Scott terms "unnecessary costs."

Of course, among the unnecessaries to him are the use of union labor and producing goods in America, and Scott is unabashed about pointing in the direction of China or other places for abysmally low production costs. He doesn't even have to say "Move to China"--his purchasing executives demand such an impossible lowball price from suppliers that they can only meet it if they follow Wal-Mart's labor example. With its dominance over its own 1.2 million workers and 65,000 suppliers, plus its alliances with ruthless labor abusers abroad, this one company is the world's most powerful private force for lowering labor standards and stifling the middle-class aspirations of workers everywhere.

Using its sheer size, market clout, access to capital, and massive advertising budget, the company also is squeezing out competitors and forcing its remaining rivals to adopt its price-is-everything approach.

Even the big boys like Toys R Us and Kroger are daunted by the company's brutish power, saying they're compelled to slash wages and search the globe for sweatshop suppliers in order to compete in the downward race to match Wal-Mart's prices.

How high a price are we willing to pay for Wal-Mart's "low-price" model? This outfit operates with an avarice, arrogance, and ambition that would make Enron blush. It hits a town or city neighborhood like a retailing neutron bomb, sucking out the economic vitality and all of the local character. And Wal-Mart's stores now have more kill-power than ever, with its Supercenters averaging 200,000 square feet--the size of more than four football fields under one roof! These things land splat on top of any community's sense of itself and devour local business.

By slashing its retail prices way below cost when it enters a community, Wal-Mart can crush our groceries, pharmacies, hardware stores, and other retailers, then raise its prices once it has monopoly control over the market.

But, say apologists for these Big-Box megastores, at least they're creating jobs. Wrong. By crushing local businesses, this giant eliminates three decent jobs for every two Wal-Mart jobs that it creates--and a store full of part-time, poorly paid employees hardly builds the family wealth necessary to sustain a community's middle-class living standard.

Indeed, Wal-Mart operates as a massive wealth extractor. Instead of profits staying in town to be reinvested locally, the money is hauled off to Bentonville, either to be used as capital for conquering yet another town or simply to be stashed in the family vaults (the Waltons, by the way, just bought the biggest bank in Arkansas).

It's our world

Why should we accept this? Is it our country, our communities, our economic destinies--or theirs? Wal-Mart's radical remaking of our labor standards and our local economies is occurring mostly without our knowledge or consent. Poof--there goes another local business. Poof--there goes our middle-class wages. Poof--there goes another factory to China. No one voted for this . . . but there it is. While corporate ideologues might huffily assert that customers vote with their dollars, it's an election without a campaign, conveniently ignoring that the public's "vote" might change if we knew the real cost of Wal-Mart's "cheap" goods--and if we actually had a chance to vote.

Much to the corporation's consternation, more and more communities are learning about this voracious powerhouse, and there's a rising civic rebellion against it. Tremendous victories have already been won as citizens from Maine to Arizona, from the Puget Sound to the Gulf of Mexico, have organized locally and even statewide to thwart the expansionist march of the Wal-Mart juggernaut.

Wal-Mart is huge, but it can be brought to heel by an aroused and organized citizenry willing to confront it in their communities, the workplace, the marketplace, the classrooms, the pulpits, the legislatures, and the voting booths. Just as the Founders rose up against the mighty British trading companies, so we can reassert our people's sovereignty and our democratic principles over the autocratic ambitions of mighty Wal-Mart.

RFID could let suppliers cheat (4, Interesting)

Theovon (109752) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420794)

Now, if Walmart's tracking is REALLY sophistocated, then they'll figure this out AND be able to track things back to the supplier, but...

One of the things that RFID would help with is the ability to not only locate a palette of some item in the stock room but also count the number of them. (Among numerous other benefits outside the stock room.) If Walmart employees (and you know how well-trained they are) get complacent about this and assume that what the reader tells them is accurate, then suppliers will try to take advantage of it. What happens if a palette comes in with more RFID tags than stock items (but not so many more that it's immediately apparent), and the supplier charges for the number of tags.

This would result in a loss for Walmart, and if it's subtle enough, it could take them a LONG time to track down.

Re:RFID could let suppliers cheat (1)

Bugaboo (266024) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420918)

If they ever found out (and they would) they would nuke the offending supplier into the stone age (and probably absorb them while they're at it). Suppliers know enough not to play with the 8,000lb gorilla that is Wal-Mart.

Re:RFID could let suppliers cheat (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420979)

I work for RGIS, who provides inventory services to Wal-Mart and they are fanatics about inventory accuracy. Wal-Mart employees might not catch that sort of thing right away, but it'd show up on our counts. 1% inventory variance is a huge deal to a Wal-Mart store.

Can you say fraud?! (2, Insightful)

ShatteredDream (636520) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421103)

What company in its right mind would do that to Wal-Mart? They're a company with more than enough money to effectively bury any of their little vendors who tried to defraud them like that. And that is exactly what they would be doing if they did that.

Whatever gains they might get, Wal-Mart's vendors could never justify the risks involved. Suppose they only get a few more "sales" here and there. Is that kind of increase in revenue worth getting millions of dollars in legal fees and fines shoved up their ass? Besides if it is a largescale operation, the chances that Wal-Mart would catch on very quickly is very high.

Simple (5, Insightful)

Quixote (154172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420816)

Walmart isn't being altruistic by not outsourcing; in fact, if they knew they could make money in the long run by outsourcing, they would have done so a long time ago.

The fact is, their main edge over their competitors is their inventory management system (just-in-time, etc.). If they outsourced this, what is to stop their outsourcee to take the knowledge and then shop it around to Target, KMart, Sears, etc.? Such valuable knowledge must be kept in-house if you want to maintain the edge.

On the other hand, if it plain labor, then Walmart _encourages_ their suppliers to outsource. They keep asking for price cuts till the supplier has no choice. Read for yourself [fastcompany.com] .

Re:Simple (1)

Quixote (154172) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420877)

Not to belabor the point, but when Amazon was just a gleam in Bezos's eye, he hired some Walmart execs with massive options packages. They brought over some of the tricks with them, and it enable Amazon to get off the ground. Later, Walmart sued Amazon [cnn.com] claiming loss of trade secrets.

This is why they don't outsource. Their use of IT in this sector is amazing. Of course, their (giving low salaries to employees | forcing companies to setup shop in China) is amazing too.

Re:Simple (1)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420881)

If they outsourced this, what is to stop their outsourcee to take the knowledge and then shop it around to Target, KMart, Sears, etc.?

I dunno, maybe an exclusivity clause in the contract, with provisions leveling crippling penalties against the outside vendor for disclosing the inventory-management stuff Wal-Mart uses to any of Wal-Mart's competitors?

I would imagine Wal-Mart can afford to hire Microsoft-caliber lawyers who would demolish a vendor who breached their contract with Wal-Mart.


Centralized planning at last! (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420850)

The Soviets tried centralized planning, but they never had the computing power, communications, and data collection to support it. Their planning cycle was 1-5 years, and was based on total production counts. It was a dismal failure, out of touch with reality. (Although it worked better than what Russia has now. GDP is down 40% since communism tanked.)

But now, we see how centralized planning can work. With hourly updates, bar codes, online registers, and quick feedback to stores and suppliers, the American economy is now run from a central location. Bentonville, Arkansas. Wal-Mart controls more production than Gosplan ever did. They definitely control production; ask any Wal-Mart supplier.

Wal-Mart is more standardized, more controlled, and more centrally managed than the USSR ever was. In financial terms, bigger, too.

Re:Centralized planning at last! (4, Insightful)

TykeClone (668449) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420936)

They control production, but they can't force the consumer to purchase what they've got.

Soviet central planning was a command economy where the government dictated how much and what would be produced. Wal-Mart's central planning is more in response to consumer demand. We can argue about how intelligent that demand is, but it is still demand driven.

Re:Centralized planning at last! (2)

jc42 (318812) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421143)

They control production, but they can't force the consumer to purchase what they've got.

Maybe not in a legal sense. But in a practical sense, they do exactly that in lots of small towns across the US. After all the other local retailers are bankrupt and shut down, you either buy from Wal-Mart, or you drive an hour or more to some other town that still has other businesses. In some areas, Wal-Mart is the only supplier of most goods within several hours' drive.

But this is an old story. It's what life was like everywhere, before transportation got fast and cheap in the more "developed" parts of the world. It's still the story in most of the under-developed areas. "If you want that, you'll have to buy from me at my price, because it'll take you several days to reach the next-closest supplier."

Watching Liberal Brains Asplode (-1, Flamebait)

Nova Express (100383) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420855)

Axiom 1: "Wal-Mart is Evil!"

Axiom 2: "Outsourcing is Evil!"

Fact: "Wal-Mart is against outsourcing."

Result: Liberals heads asplode! [homestarrunner.com] (Much like the guys in Scanners, or the computer in that really stupid episode of The Prisoner.)

Re:Watching Liberal Brains Asplode (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420938)

Uh.. Wal-Mart oursources more work to China than almost all other companies combined.

Did you ever look at any of the walmart-branded products and see where they're made?

Re:Watching Liberal Brains Asplode (1)

Loonacy (459630) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421023)

Fortunately, most people are smart enough to understand that some people sometimes say one thing and do another.

Can't you just (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420858)

picture a bunch of COBOL programmers all dressed up in great Walmart cloth huddling in an Arkansas building ?

Wally World doesn't need to outsource. (3, Insightful)

IGnatius T Foobar (4328) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420867)

When you're Wal-Mart, you don't need to outsource, because you're already paying crap salaries. The slogan "Always low prices, always low pay" didn't come out of nowhere, you know.

Wal-Mart dictates its pricing across the board: to its suppliers, and to employees. When you can pay an American the salary of an Indian and get away with it, why hire the Indian?

True cost savings (4, Insightful)

rollingcalf (605357) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420873)

If anybody is good at saving costs it's Wal-Mart. I don't agree with many of their business practices (such as screwing employees out of overtime pay), but saving costs is one thing they're really good at.

They are smart enough to realize that in software development, the real cost savings come from quality and productivity, not per-person labor costs. Hiring, training and retaining people who can produce twice as much per person is much more profitable than hiring people who each cost half as much to employ.

Outsourcing to cheap labor might work well for manufacturing toys or T-shirts, but cheap IT labor doesn't so easily bring your total IT costs down.

Re:True cost savings (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10421049)

This appears to be the case for my current employer. They're next major product release (Windows Client/Server based) was to be entirely developed in India while the domestic programming staff was devoted to just maintaining the existing product lines (mostly mainframe and Unix).

Unfortunately (or fortunatly), the beta's coming out of India have been disasterous. Many of our customers who have agreed to participate in the beta program have deinstalled the product and a bad reputation is getting out to other potential customers.

One of the major issues is support and debugging. The company has had to fly in software engineers from India to the customer sites to troubleshoot failed product upgrades and patches. Things like Windows patches and other software conflicts have rendered entire workstations/servers useless. There is also of course customization requirements for each customer and since the architecture was so hardcoded it requires getting a developer to make simple changes.

My company has now in the process of moving many of the domestic programmers and consultants into "fixing" this turd of a product.

Offshore Outsourcing Software Development (4, Interesting)

Teckla (630646) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420876)

Offshore outsourcing software development is all about short-term gains at the expensive of long-term profitability.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist to realize that training people who will ultimately take that knowledge and compete against you isn't a viable long-term strategy.

I'm looking forward to seeing the faces of American executives when Indian software companies start competing against those same American companies who decided offshore outsource. "Gosh, we didn't expect them to compete against us after we paid them for years and years, giving them the crucial experience necessary to compete against us!"

Oh, wait. Those executives won't care. They'll already have stolen their millions from the companies whose long-term viability they destroyed, and be sipping drinks while counting their money.

Outsourcing != offshoring (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420884)

Looks like people are confusing the two. Of course Wal-Mart is not going to outsoure its IT. They teach you in B-school not to outsource your core competency -- which in this case is their information gathering and optimization that allows them to be so efficient.

Offshoring on the other hand can be done without outsourcing. Wal-Mart just has to establish a developement center in another country that they fully control. Companies like IBM, Oracle, and Microsoft are offshoring work to China and India, but they are not outsourcing since these develepment centers and employees belong to the company, not a third party.

Re:Outsourcing != offshoring (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420919)

Offshoring on the other hand can be done without outsourcing. Wal-Mart just has to establish a developement center in another country that they fully control.

They wish.

Outsourcing - an undue bad rep (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#10420903)

It is interesting to see how outsourcing has quickly gained an immensely bad reputation.

Some are against outsourcing simply because American jobs should be kept in America. Some are against it because they lost their jobs to outsourcing. Others believe that outsourcing produces lower quality goods and services. And yet, others are against it because they are sheep.

Of course many forget that American jobs don't belong to the employees, but to the employers. Management has to do what it must to cut costs, and improve profitability. It's about the bottom line. Boycotts against companies will result in a poorer financial performance, resulting in more outsourcing.

And while, it is understandably tough to lose your job to Joe Third-World, I don't understand how some of the same people can support firing employees. Geeks aren't clamoring when big companies announce layoffs. Yet, outsourcing is bad, somehow.

As to those who believe that outsourcing provides poorer quality goods and services, it is interesting to note that a lot of manufacturing goes on in Asia. The majority of the products used to make the computers that the Slashdot audience uses to read Slashdot is made in Asia. Besides, who's to say that American tech support is any better? Tech support staff everywhere are given guidelines or sometimes scripts to help them work. If they knew better, they wouldn't be working in tech support.

Re:Outsourcing - an undue bad rep (1)

Kenja (541830) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421005)

"Some are against outsourcing simply because American jobs should be kept in America. Some are against it because they lost their jobs to outsourcing. Others believe that outsourcing produces lower quality goods and services. And yet, others are against it because they are sheep."

Thats right, everyone who disagrees with you is a sheep. Keep thinking that.

"Of course many forget that American jobs don't belong to the employees, but to the employers. Management has to do what it must to cut costs, and improve profitability. It's about the bottom line. Boycotts against companies will result in a poorer financial performance, resulting in more outsourcing."

Ok, if a US company has no loyalty to the US then stop corporate wellfair. Our taxes go to these corporations and they in turn claim that they owe the US nothing. I for one think that they exist and have al this money and power becuase of the US workers.

"And while, it is understandably tough to lose your job to Joe Third-World, I don't understand how some of the same people can support firing employees. Geeks aren't clamoring when big companies announce layoffs. Yet, outsourcing is bad, somehow."

Gee, I wonder why removing a job from the US labor market would be bad. The mind boggles. A US worker cannot compete for an outsourced job, no matter how good they are or what they are willing to work for.

"As to those who believe that outsourcing provides poorer quality goods and services, it is interesting to note that a lot of manufacturing goes on in Asia. The majority of the products used to make the computers that the Slashdot audience uses to read Slashdot is made in Asia. Besides, who's to say that American tech support is any better? Tech support staff everywhere are given guidelines or sometimes scripts to help them work. If they knew better, they wouldn't be working in tech support."

You've never had to deal with outsourced tech support have you? try it some time, its frustrating as hell since your talking to a guy who knows nothign about the product he's supprot ing and dosn't speak the same language as you.

The UCCnet project and Walmart. (1)

borgheron (172546) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420906)

The UCCnet project that was mentioned several times in the article was a project that I was one of the lead developers for when I worked for CommerceOne/AppNet.

It's interesting to see it in the news. :)


My (slight OT) Walmart Interview Story (4, Interesting)

writermike (57327) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420930)

Many years ago I applied to work at Walmart. I didn't plan to work in IT. I just wanted to work at a store part time. I was a teenager in search of money. There was, as I recall, a three-part process: a mini-interview, a questionnaire to fill out, then another interview.

One of the questions on the form was something along the lines of:

"Do you feel that everyone tries drugs at some point in their life."

The question wasn't specific. It didn't ask about "heroin," "marijuana," or even "aspirin."

Anyway, I am sometimes Honest and I felt I needed to answer the question truthfully. So, checked "Yes," and wrote: "Yes, I believe that, at some point during a person's very long life, one tries 'drugs'."

Yes, I was a dink.

The interviewer took my form to be "analyzed" and, to this day, I remember the anger on her face when she walked out of that office.

She said, "So, you think people try drugs, huh? Well, I don't think we have any place for a person like that."

I don't think I can ever work at Walmart. I imagine my "form" along with my name and SS has been filed somewhere.

Anyway, I suppose that Walmart's IT folks aren't pot-smoking, heroin-shooting, aspirin-chewing, drug-experimenters who sit in a daze watching Matrix letters melt on their screens, eh?

"We'd be nuts to outsource.." (4, Interesting)

Mipsalawishus (674206) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420940)

Actually, Wal-mart outsources it's IT needs at every chance it gets. I do alot of rollouts and installations of IT related stuff for Wal-mart around the state. They use Cisco equipment for most of their switches & routers, and NT4,2000, & AIX on their servers. As for the quality of administration, it's not that bad at all. We have to document everything thing and call in to home office for the simplest of things like swapping ports on a switch so as to keep things in order. I know those are typical things most organizations do internally, but for company this size, I think it's pretty good. The workmanship of some of the wiring around the stores leading to and from the UPC rooms leaves a bit to be desired though.

Don't quit your Google job yet (4, Informative)

MillionthMonkey (240664) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420960)

I know a guy who has an IT job at Wal-Mart. He says they used to have decent health benefits there, comparable to the rest of the IT industry, but recently they were downgraded to the same benefits that the "associates" on the floor get.

Wal-Mart's competitors (4, Informative)

PatJensen (170806) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420987)

I have several large store chains as customers I support. Not a single one of them use the same bleeding edge methodologies (RFID, data warehousing, etc.) to use IT to grow their businesses like Wal-Mart. This is a really good article and really highlights how using IT can grow your business, versus seeing it as a "requirement" and treating it that way.

Some store chains "like" treating their customers like a vintage bank, i.e. do everything on paper, no redundancy, very low bandwidth links, long credit card validation times, etc. I think that Wal-Mart's success continues to hinge on them utilizing IT and that says a lot about their business.

Alternately, because of a lot of what they do is bleeding edge - they don't get the same level of application and vendor support because other stores have implemented the same systems. While the risk is a lot higher in adopting new systems (i.e. RFID), the gain from being the first adopter and being able to profit off the technology will make up for it if they are successful.


walmart = oinkers (5, Informative)

zogger (617870) | more than 9 years ago | (#10420996)

I can't despise walmart enough, and this is from someone who thought they were a good idea when they started out and used to be a regular shopper. They make MS look like a benevolent charity. They've had to resort to what in essence are a series of public propoganda commercials on the TV (seen 'em? pure FUD) in order to keep up what they are attempting to maintain as an "all amwerican" image with smiling happy workers. It's right out of kim ill dungs ministry of truth video factory.

Here's a paste from this url http://www.familyfarmdefenders.org/whatsgoingon/wa lmart.html

" Wal-Mart Exploits Children in Overseas Sweatshops

Behind the slick veneer of success, though, there is incredible misery. Contrary to its "all-American" advertising hype, Wal-Mart sources over 80% of its products from overseas. According to the National Labor Committee, there are 1000 sweatshops in China alone supplying Wal-Mart - many of them owned and operated by the Red Army using political prisoners. Chinese teenagers get just 12 1/5 cents per hour for an 84 hour work week and at night are packed into squalid dormitories under armed guard. In Bangladesh, teenage girls receive as little as 9 cents per hour - far below the official minimum wage of 33 cents/hour - sewing Wal-Mart clothes. Wal-Mart refuses to reveal its factory locations to independent human rights monitors since, in the words of spokewoman, Betsy Reithmeyer, "This is very competitive. If we find a very good factory, we want to keep it to ourselves."

Wal-Mart Also Exploits Its Own Workers in the U.S.!

While, those sitting on Wal-Mart's board of directors earn a whopping $1500/day for their "hard work," the rest of the workforce languishes among America's working poor. Wal-Mart's vehement anti-union attitude means over half of its 720,000 "associates" qualify for federal food stamps. Wal-Mart employees average just $7.50/hr. - well below the national retail wage average of $8.71/hr. At 30 hours per week, a Wal-Mart worker earns barely $11,700 per year - $2000 below the federal poverty line for a single mother with two children."

Basically walmart says, we'll force you to lose your job, then please come shop at our store! It's the american way! Oooh, unions are evil commies, but our trade associations and our relationships with dictatorial regimes are fine!

ohhh..wait... this IS the american way now! How could I forget!

This is what all these globalist goons want for the united states, this is how you will compete, so remember to vote for the NWO R.epressive And D.omineering corporate party this election, it will speed up the transformation to a glorius culture of low pay, dismal working conditions, and the cheapest designed and built crap possible! YaaaaY!

That's a lotta loot.... (5, Insightful)

urlgrey (798089) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421062)

"...sales are quoted at more than 250 billion dollars, their IT spending is less than 1% of that."

Let's see here....
x .01

Just working with the 1% number, we can see their IT budget is ~2.5 billion bucks. With that much loot, I think it's fair to say, one can move mountains... and still make it back in time for afternoon tea.


We are suprised why? (1)

barfy (256323) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421088)

Ok, the 250 Billion number is big, gigantic, whaleish.

But more importantly EBITA is 20.41B. Now their IT budget, not only is it practically huge, it is actually a large percentage of thier earnings.

And as it should be. WalMart, makes it's money of off IT. Being so massive, small advantages turn into large dollars. And for them outsourcing would lower thier IT budget, but hurt them in discovering small advantages.

Most companies do not have this advantage. They cannot overcome the investment costs. But WalMart can...

If their IT costs weren't less than 1%... (4, Insightful)

DeepDarkSky (111382) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421090)

...there would be a big problem. $2.5 Billion in IT costs? For a global supermarket chain? I mean, if it was a technology company with big R&D budgets (like, oh, IBM, or something), that'd be a different story, perhaps.
On the other hand, $250 Billion in sales is just that...sales of largely physical goods. A better indicator would be as compared to profits...or as a percentage of operating costs.

Ah well (4, Funny)

PhotoBoy (684898) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421100)

I was hoping this would be "Inside Wal-Mark 'it' girls", a follow-on to the successful "Girls of Wal-Mart".

Wal-Mart = (1)

seven of five (578993) | more than 9 years ago | (#10421148)

Wal-Mart = cheap junk sold to more or less captive audiences, bought from squeezed (mostly offshore) suppliers, thru stores staffed by underpaid workers. Who wants to race them to the bottom? Who (if you have a choice) wants to work there? Who wants to emulate them? Who wants to sell to them? Kee-rist!!!!!
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"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
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