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Cash in on Sam’s simple plan

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Sam Walton opened his first Wal- Mart store in Rogers, Ark., in 1962, the same year that far bigger retailers started Kmart, Woolco and Target.

Arkansas was so far off the beaten path, though, that Walton didn’t attract much attention. At least, not until he came from behind and pulled up nose to nose with the big boys.

With the benefit of hindsight, it’s interesting to note how simple Walton’s success formula was:
  • Undercut the competition’s prices by eliminating or reducing every possible cost.

  • Expand quickly and decisively. Walton would fly over towns in his airplane, looking for store locations in areas where a good number of people lived. Sometimes, he would land his plane on a farmer’s field and offer to buy the entire field.

  • Find the best people. When Walton realized that he needed computers in the mid-1960s, he took a computer course at IBM so he could hire the smartest guy in the class to come set up his computers.

  • Adopt useful new technologies. Small-town boy or not, Walton pioneered setting up computerized merchandise controls and other advanced systems.
Above all, Walton kept his unique selling proposition simple and unchanged. While other merchants fiddled with their strategy, Walton’s “low prices every day” pulled him further ahead. His success speaks for itself.

— Adapted from The Time 100: Time Magazine’s Most Important People of the Century,

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