As someone who feels strongly about a good retail experience and that retailers can offer a lot of value to consumers, I realized that I really can’t stand Walmart. I find the business uninteresting and lacking in providing a value-add retail experience for consumers.
From an industry perspective, I worry and hate the idea that Walmart is putting other, perhaps smaller, retailers who add value by educating consumers and curating product inventory, out of business. In my mind, the retailer serves a wonderful primary function of being a trusted solution provider. This involves curating product inventory, educating the consumer on how to use products to derive desired solutions, and lastly, providing customer service when the product maybe doesn’t solve the problem. Does Walmart do this? Overall, I would argue, no. Walmart’s business model and strategy is instead focused on everyday low prices and being a one-stop shop for almost everything. Eye glasses, auto-repair, groceries, televisions, etc. How can a retailer specialize in all these different product categories? Answer: They can’t. And service suffers as a result. Essentially Walmart is the brick-and-mortar version of Amazon.com, but Amazon.com probably adds more value because they can at least recommend things you might be interested in buying.
customer service is terrible Don’t blame Walmart employees for this either. It isn’t their fault. The Walmart business model doesn’t focus on the potential value that its employees could add to the consumer’s shopping experience. Walmart doesn’t care that non of its employees are not experts in any product category, and they don’t care about employee turnover, as a result. How can we expect this employees to be excited and informed about the products being sold in the store?
penny wise, dollar stupid When people go to Walmart, they go there expecting to save money. Instead, they end up buying more than they had originally planned and spending more money than they would have likely spent had they gone to a specialty retailer for the specific item that they needed originally.
no curation value-add Walmart’s idea of curating its product inventory is looking at suppliers who can supply the large enough volume at low-enough prices. Where does fit of product features and consumer preferences of different market segments get factored into store buying/merchandising decisions? Am I finding anything unique in the Walmart store located in my hometown versus another Walmart store location? Am I finding anything unique at all in the Walmart? I would argue no. The shopping experience is void of any taste and style…it is a colorless experience, from my point of view. I prefer spending my money with retailers who are passionate about their products and business, and who help tell me what I should want. Walmart presumes its customers already know what it wants, and it just provides it a low price. Boring.
boring business model Congratulations Walmart, you’ve become an expert at supply chain and economies of scale. This business model existed and was well utilized in the 1900s. How exciting it must be to be all about size and volume, and that’s it.