Two large dominant competitors, such as Kroger vs. Wal-Mart in groceries, is not ideal competition, but I believe it is much better than a single monopoly like the old Ma Bell. Kroger/Wal-Mart, Microsoft/Apple, and Coke/Pepsi were certainly not perfect competition, but innovation continued in those two-way fights. For this reason, I have been hoping that Wal-Mart would get its act together to compete with Amazon online.
There has been some recent good news: first quarter online sales for Wal-Mart were up over 60%, the jet.com acquisition apparently going well, and projections of passing up eBay to become #2 to Amazon online.
Wal-Mart SHOULD be a competitor in online retailing for as it is:
- The biggest brick-and-mortar retailer in the world,
- A leader in logistics, supply, distribution, and retail IT,
- Blessed with deep pockets,
- Everywhere, with so many locations, and
- A fierce competitor.
The multiple retail locations are partially a drawback for Wal-Mart as they establish a brand known primarily for low cost and “people of Wal-Mart.” However, Amazon is experimenting with showrooms for people who want to see and touch the products and with lockers in malls for people who don’t want deliveries on their front porch or driveway.
The Opportunity for in-store pick up should be a big advantage for Wal-Mart. Do working people or people with unpredictable schedules want their product left out in the snow or rain, or visible to passerby’s or neighbors who might be interested in using the products?
Four years ago on my other blog, I wrote Showrooming: Why Wal-Mart will lose to Amazon. This picture illustrates my major issue. When I go to pick up an order at Wal-Mart I must go to a deserted area – the backup restroom area – in the back of the store, pick up a phone, request help, and wait 15-25 minutes for someone to arrive. Compared to waiting outside the deserted restroom area for 20 minutes, Amazon’s idea of lockers at a mall might seem warm, friendly and personable!
Maybe Wal-Mart is already addressing this issue, but there is no evidence in our local stores or others that I have visited.
Does any reader live near a Wal-Mart that is doing a nice job with pick-ups?
I have noticed a similar problem with their financial “service” offerings, which would require a customer to be very patient. Maybe the areas could be combined into a service center, or perhaps pickups and financial services could be handled by trained assistant managers.
Any other advice to Wal-Mart on delivering service??
There will always be startups or niche online retailers, but again, I believe Amazon needs a big competitor.