Three Big Reasons Wal-Mart and Amazon's Leaders Are Golden

Jan. 15, 2013

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, was just named the National Retail Foundation's (NRF’s) Gold Award winner for 2012.

Although Bezos has been making headlines quite often for his many innovations, this one stands out. The NRF’s membership is made up mostly of traditionally brick-and-mortar stores, so by naming Bezos its retailer of the year, it really shows the extent of Amazon’s disruption of the retail industry.

2012 was a banner year for Amazon, and there is no doubt Bezos has shaken up the industry as major retail chains respond to the Amazon Effect. But this isn’t the first time the NRF has designated a force of great change as its retailer of the year.

In 1988, Sam Walton, founder of Wal-Mart, also won the Gold Award from NRF. And the comparisons between these two major innovators don’t end there. Both Walton and Bezos have been pioneers in these three major areas:

  • They both had a great retail strategy, built while totally focused on the customer.
  • They both defined their supply chain capabilities in response to their retail strategy.
  • They both applied technology to create major innovations and bring down prices for customers.

So why aren’t all companies doing these three things that have elevated both Bezos and Walton? A very good question.

Since both companies are also major competitors, it has been interesting to see how they respond to each other’s success through growth and innovation. While we know Walton’s legacy, where Bezos and Amazon will go is yet to be seen. Amazon’s growth and influence will continue, with new developments in same-day delivery and perhaps even brick-and-mortar stores.

But, wait: Wal-Mart isn’t just watching from the sidelines. I find it interesting that first it was Wal-Mart, then Amazon, and going forward, it’s a true battle of the titans.

See more on Amazon’s influence and future growth in this video: theAmazon Effect.

About the Author

Jim Tompkins | CEO

Dr. James A. Tompkins is an international authority on leadership, logistics, material handling, outsourcing, and supply chain best practices. As the founder and CEO of Tompkins International, he provides leadership for Tompkins globally.

His 30-plus years as CEO of a consulting / integration firm and his focus on helping companies achieve profitable growth give him an insider’s view into what makes great companies even better. Listen to an interview of Jim Tompkins on the Business Leader Radio show.

As a high-level business advisor, his unique perspective prepares corporations and executives for the future.

To share his knowledge and provide up-to-date information on supply chain and business trends, he developed the GoGoGo! Blogand Global Supply Chain Podcast.

He has written or contributed to more than 30 books and eBooks, including Caught Between the Tiger and the Dragon, Bold Leadership, Logistics and Manufacturing Outsourcing, The Supply Chain Handbook, andNo Boundaries. Jim has been quoted in hundreds of business and industry magazines such as The Journal of Commerce, Supply & Demand Chain Executive, and FORTUNE, and he has spoken at more than 4,000 international engagements.

Jim has served as President of the Institute of Industrial Engineers, the Materials Management Society, and the College-Industry Council on Material Handling Education, and Purdue has named him a Distinguished Engineering Alum. He has also received more than 50 awards for his service to his profession.

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