It's fascinating to see so many reasons being given for the failure of WalMart in Germany and its retreat by selling all its 85 stores to a German competitor. You have "not enough stores" to have critical mass. You have "unions and higher wages." You have "German government regulations."
My favorite, however, is culture. In today's NYT's biz section, you have WalMart sending over American managers who wanted to bag groceries for German consumers. OOps, German consumers like to bag their own stuff. The same American managers told clerks to smile at customers--be friendly, just like in the old USA. But German customers like "brusque service" and were put off. WalMart is also selling it's stores in South Korea. I wonder what it did there to its customers.
I've seen this kind of thing happen in Portland, OR or Boise Idaho when New Yorkers go out to buy something and are put off by friendly people behind the counter. It's hilarious.
And it's culture. You've got to know your customer's culture to give your customer a great experience.