Wal-Mart: A New Economy Play

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"Wal-Mart’s scope as a retailer is vast. But it’s not just the number and dispersion of its more than 2,600 stores — there’s the number of its customers, the volume of its traffic and the variety of its merchandise. And for years, Wal-Mart’s been capturing, storing and analyzing highly detailed, real-time information about every transaction. Probably no other retailer — and surely, no government statistical bureau — possesses as much high-quality information about the American public’s buying preferences."

Related material:

The Amazon.com connection:

I used to work for NCR/AT&T GIS in 1995, but in the PC department, not the datawarehouse Teradata business (the guys kept talking about diapers and beer, and there’s anecdotal evidence they’re still deep into datawarehousing). When I was at Microsoft, I loved to run queries against their internal datawarehouse (dubbed "MS Sales") and build detailed pivot tables with Excel VBA (eg. for corporate reseller ACME, what percentage of its sales in large accounts during the last four quarters were Exchange Server sales). I had more information on sales by resellers than the resellers themselves!
05/21/01 update: Wal-Mart’s Power Play.
08/20/01 update: Customer Data Means Money.
11/27/04 update: What Wal-Mart Knows About Customers’ Habits.

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