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A story in Northwest Arkansas News suggests that Walmart’s SKU rationalization and reduction efforts are resulting in some level of shopper frustration when they can’t find the flavors and sizes they want.

There apparently is some degree of supplier frustration, as well. “I’m hearing that the SKU and inventory reductions have made life difficult for all of them, but especially the mid-sized suppliers,” Patricia Edwards, financial analyst with Storehouse Partners, tells the paper. “One particular supplier in the health and wellness area was hoping as of a couple of months ago for flat numbers this year and to ‘just get to the next year.’ ”

The News writes that “about 24 percent of shoppers reported going to Walmart less this year compared with a year ago, while 14 percent of shoppers reported going to Walmart more often, according to the Wal-Mart World report by Jennifer Halterman, Retail Forward senior consultant.”
KC's View:
The tightrope that Walmart has to walk here is reducing its SKUs without having an overall negative impact on shopper perception. The anecdotal evidence suggests that maybe the retailer has taken it too far, but it is hardly beyond the realm of possibility that Walmart is tweaking its selection in a variety of categories in order to get it right. Walmart is good, but it isn’t perfect - it was unlikely that Walmart was going to get it precisely right the first time.

I’m also hearing that the retailer is tweaking its private brand strategy a bit.

The worst mistake that Walmart’s competitors can make is to see a story like this and believe that there is some kind of major flaw in the Bentonville Behemoth’s strategy. All this means is that Walmart is willing to undertake major initiatives and do whatever is necessary to get it right.