Is Wal-Mart -- the company that practically invented global sourcing on a mass scale in the retail sector -- backtracking from its low-cost country supply chain orientation? A recent article from the News Observer suggests it might be -- at least from a marketing perspective. According to the story "representatives of the world's largest retailer want more local vendors to supply its flagship stores and Sam's Clubs ... For Wal-Mart, local sourcing is an opportunity to impress an increasingly conscientious public concerned about the national trade deficit, rising fuel prices and environmental concerns related to long-distance transport and shipping. That benefit can outweigh the hassle of dealing with greater numbers of small and relatively unsophisticated suppliers."
I believe that taking into account Wal-Mart's typical demographics and the impact consumer inflation is having on this clientele, there is little doubt that the average Wal-Mart consumer cares much more about getting the best deal than whether or not a product came from a local supplier. On Maslow's Hierarchy of retail spending needs, survival comes first for the working class who is increasingly finding their dollars are not going far enough given overall inflation levels at the pump and in the retail aisles.
- Jason Busch