Walmart is the world's largest corporation, according to the Fortune 500, and has sales of more than $400 billion. According to Walmart.com, the company uses 60 different names for its 9,000+ stores worldwide. Over 4,600 of Walmart stores are in countries outside the U.S.
Walmart's international operations is one of the fastest-growing arms of the company, and the decision to use different store names in different countries is one component of Walmart's international success.
An International Strategy
Using store names that are familiar to local customers is one part of Walmart's attempt to succeed in the international marketplace. It's a challenge for Walmart to enter into foreign markets, and the company has overcome one of the hurdles of succeeding internationally by acquiring or forming partnerships with established retailers. In most cases, Walmart decides to keep the name of the local retailer so shoppers will be familiar with the brand.
Walmart's first international store was a Sam's Club in Mexico. Today, other Walmart store names in Mexico include Bodega Aurerra, Bodega Aurerra Express, and Superama. The company's other international brand names include BestPrice Modern Wholesale in India, Asda Supercentre in Great Britain, Seiyu in Japan, and TrustMart in China.
Growth of Walmart International
Walmart is depending on the continued growth of its international stores to make up for the slowing market in the U.S. The partnership and subsequent acquision of Seiyu in Japan is one example of Walmart's aggressive strategy to maintain profitability. Walmart recently bought a majority stake in Massmart, a South African retailer, and wants to increase its market presence in emerging markets such as Brazil and China.
Lessons Learned in Germany and South Korea
Not all of Walmart's attempts to expand internationally have been successful. The company withdrew from Germany after discovering, among other things, that German customers prefer to bag their own groceries and were put off by overly friendly salesclerks. In South Korea, customers didn't like the open ceilings that showed exposed pipes, the height of the shelves and bulk packaging. Walmart has learned these experiences and made efforts to adapt to local cultures that go beyond the name of the store.