I now work directly across from a Wal-mart in the business district of Beijing. I've only been in one once before in China, so I decided to give it a walk-through yesterday after work.
I get such mixed impressions when I go in there. In the U.S., Wal-mart's identity is "Always low prices." And why? Because everything is manufactured in China. Now what does that mean for Wal-mart stores in China? What is their identity? Prices still seem slightly lower then other stores, but the selection remains enormous compared to the traditional tiny Chinese booth-style stores. Unlike the U.S., the produce section was amazing, filled with everything that you couldn't find in other places. Additionally, there were plenty of cashiers making it one of the only places without a line during rush hour. They also still embrace the idea of having everything including the kitchen sink in inventory, just with a Chinese flavor. Here, that "everything" includes hundreds of kinds of tofu, animal parts that you don't recognize, or even a good wine selection for the foreigners.
What are my feelings on the whole thing? I'd go again. I still don't like the enormous inconvenient size, but I love the selection, no check-out lines and the crazy culture clash feeling I get when I go through the door...and as an MBA, I will always admire the company's ability to do what they do on such a large scale. It's quite the machine.