This kind of program and the benefits that come with it are not unique to Walmart. This kind of inbound control is the Holy Grail of logistics and supply chain management to any large retailer in the United States. In the auto parts arena both AutoZone and Pep Boys have traditionally used their muscle and private dedicated fleets to control inbound activity. In the discount department store arena Target has been successful with its control of its inbound freight. There are plenty of examples of creative logistics groups that have successfully reduced their inbound transportation costs and have gained in many other operational areas because of their control.
What makes Walmart different is the sheer magnitude of their universe of inbound freight. Every retailer sets out with the goal to convert all inbound to collect control. What is really special about Walmart's initiative is that it is a “Big Hairy Audacious Goal” to control over 7 million truckloads a year, a formidable challenge. Chris Sultemeier, Senior Vice President of Transportation, Kelly Abney, Vice President of Corporate Transportation, and the rest of the Walmart Logistics team have a substantial mission. To manage over 7 million annual loads will take technology, planning, resources, and competence. And it will take a lot of a key virtue: patience. Walmart’s plan is to do it “one at a time,” as in one vendor at a time, one load at a time, one deal at a time. It is a prize worth pursuing.