Excerpts From Lee Scott’s Speech at NRF Show, 1-12-2009, Written by Ellen Davis

What retailers can do to become more successful: “You had better understand your customer right now. And you had better understand your inventory.” This is where having quality POS Software can eliminate the guess work according to Bob Brown.

Trends in business or society that will affect retail: Scott pointed to the aging of America and the fact that two-person households continue to increase. He said those two factors will have "a dramatic impact on all of us, more than we think about today." He also noted that just because the economy is struggling doesn’t mean that other facets of Americans lives have changed. For example, he said, Wal-Mart found that shoppers who traded down from dining out to making their own meals at home were still buying frozen foods. As a result, frozen food sales at Wal-Mart shot up. Why? "People didn’t have any more time just because the economy got worse", he said. "They needed meal solutions that were convenient and healthy. You saw customers moving in that direction." Basically he meant that your customers are buying less extravagant items and buying more of the basics stated Brown.

Relationships with suppliers: "Sam Walton always liked suppliers. He liked talking to them about what’s selling, what they’re doing. He wanted the best deal and wanted to drive costs down. [With suppliers], you need a real partnership or you’re going to have problems." You can do this in your POS Software’s Retail Stock Ledger and do vendor comparatives. Find out which vendors are performing well and which vendor to eliminate" said Brown.

How to become a successful global retailer: When it comes to globalization, Scott admitted that getting there was a long road. "We’ve had a lot of horror stories," he said. "Most of them are public." The biggest error, Scott said, was a belief that "the seed of all retail knowledge was Bentonville, Arkansas. We learned our lesson. You really have to manage locally." Scott said that the company currently lets retail management in each country run the company.  "Until we were able to let go and let them operate based on their customer needs and the competitive set in those countries, we could not make it work.â" You have to buy what is in demand in your locale and not what is the hot thing nationally.

Lessons learned after three decades in retail:  "I’ve learned so many lessons, mostly the hard way. The most important lesson I’ve learned in my career is that in a big organization you have to hire people better than you are and you have to give them the credit. That isn’t easy for me."