Yesterday I was looking for two relatively common things to buy for Christmas presents.
Target: Strike 1
Best Buy: Strike 2
Walmart: Homerun. They had plenty of both in stock.
I may have to rethink the reasons why I went to Target and Best Buy first. Having things that people want to buy in stock is a key value proposition for a retailer.
Many believe that Walmart’s key to success was low prices. That was part of it.
But, prior to the 00’s, they had a more complex value proposition than that. They also happened to have what people wanted in stock more of the time than their competitors (good supply chain management), they had good customer service (good people management) and a no-questions-asked return policy.
Somewhere in the early 00’s, their focus seemed to go to low prices alone.
Customer service declined. Staff became grumpy and phantom. One reason I didn’t go to Walmart first is the memories from the early 00’s of going there to buy a couple things and having to wait in 30 minute long lines to checkout because they managed cashier wage expense tightly to keep prices down.
This decline in Walmart’s value proposition opened the door for competitors like Target and Kohl’s and gave a lifeline to Kmart.
Not only did Walmart have plenty of what I needed yesterday, but when I went to check out there was a helpful cashier, without a line, smiling and waiting for me.