With a topic of “Building stronger relationships with Walmart,” the room should be packed with suppliers next week when Walmart SVP Laura Phillips takes the stage at the Doing Business in Bentonville speaker series. The event will be held from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. on Wednesday, June 15 at the John Q. Hammons Center in Rogers, Ark. Click here for more information.
Although Phillips area of responsibility is toys and seasonal celebrations, she plans to discuss key ways suppliers can build stronger relationships with Walmart regardless of the category. More specifically, she is expected to address the issue of regional merchandising versus national merchandising and the role of store managers as merchants. That latter has become an important topic, because under the leadership of Walmart U.S. president and CEO Bill Simon and chief merchandising officer Duncan Mac Naughton the company has reverted to an approach where store managers are given greater autonomy to serve the needs of their local communities, especially with regard to Action Alley feature displays. About 30% of those features can be determined by store managers, but since the strategy is relatively recent Walmart has an opportunity to better educate suppliers about how to work effectively within the company’s decision-making framework and then to ensure programs are executed successfully at the local level.
Phillips is well equipped to address such a topic. She began her career at Wamart in 1994 as an intern at a store in Florida. Later, she found her way to Walmart’s home office and the merchandising division where her time was split evenly between food and consumables and general merchandise. She has served as a buyer, a divisional merchandise manager and in her current capacity as an SVP. She received a bachelor of science degree in finance from the University of Florida and an MBA from the University of Arkansas.