aNewDomain — I’m the consumer brick-and-mortar merchants despise. That’s because I’m the guy that walks in to take a look at a product of interest without any intention to buy. And usually, I just use the store to verify the pricing and get a closer look. Then I order it from my mobile phone via Amazon or Walmart online right there in the store.
Yes, I’m that dude. The Urban Dictionary should have my picture next to its entry on Lookie Loo.
It’s no secret that Walmart and Amazon are giants when it comes to retail goods for consumers. The two companies vary in mode of operation, but at the end of the day each are offering lower prices for products we are all looking for. Now we hear that Walmart aims to take an idea out of the Amazon playbook by offering a subscription plan similar to Amazon’s Prime service. The code name for the project is Walmart Tahoe.
“So what, Ant,” you say. “It’s just another $100 a year for me.” Nope. Walmart is looking to offer a service that grants two- to three-day shipping on select items for half the price of Amazon’s Prime service.
The subscription service will be $50 annually. That compares well to the $99 yearly fee Amazon charges. Will that matter to store nightmares like me?
To be a success, it must.
Walmart needs to convince window shoppers and online buyers like me to stay in the store and buy. Now, if I could buy all the bulk toiletries and everything else I now get from Amazon Prime via the cheaper Walmart Tahoe, that’s pretty sweet. And it sure beats driving two miles to hit the actual Walmart brick and mortar.
But pricing has to be better, too. Yes, Walmart is inexpensive. But sometimes Amazon wins out on price when you consider bulk rates and the free two-day shipping an Amazon Prime membership gets you.
Also, Amazon is a veteran of getting all variety of everything to shoppers rapidly in the mail and with almost no risk. Will Walmart match that shopping experience, all while being cheaper than Amazon Prime and Amazon in general, too?
Walmart Tahoe will definitely be controversial, and a lot of people from all sides will be watching. Walmart has earned both praise and criticism for its pricing and business strategy. As it directly competes with the local small businesses, its success has been built on the routine undercutting of neighborhood businesses. The advantages in margins seem evil to some. This subscription could add one more metaphorical nail in the coffin of local small businesses. I’d expect a fight but, if history is any guide, not an effective one.
$50 a year is enough to get my attention, but I can’t say I’m ready to jump on board. I want to know what items will qualify for this service. I’d also like to see more merchandise available through Walmart Tahoe than Walmart currently offers. To do that, it’ll need to take not just a page but a whole chapter from Amazon’s business strategies.
Even if all that happens, I still might not change my ways. Walmart is late to the game with this. My shopping habits, while not hardened exactly, are real habits that only great pricing, a better inventory and a lot of convincing can change. But, hey, I’m open. Are you? I’d love to hear what you think. Email me at email@example.com or comment below.
For aNewDomain, I’m Ant Pruitt.
Cover image: By Ben Schumin (Own work) , via Wikimedia Commons