Saturday, June 06, 2009

Consumer electronics shopping at Wal-Mart

A lot of noise has been made about how Wal-Mart is trying hard to expand their market share in consumer electronics, vying with traditional CE retailers as well as on-line competitors for ex-Circuit City customers.

As my regular readers know, I'm not a fan of Wal-Mart... quite the opposite in fact. I bash them enough to have an "evil empire" tag devoted to them. But it's hard to criticize their latest effort second hand. So I decided to do some snooping and visit the local Wal-Mart. Seeing as it is located in a fairly affluent suburban area, I figured it would be a fairer assessment of their efforts than the one by my work, which is in a decaying urban area.

If this represents an even moderate effort on their part... their CE initiative blows.

While I get that this store is not one of the new "remodeled" CE departments, there are a lot of things that can be done without sinking a mint into new fixtures.

The merchandising sucked ass. The best way to find stuff was just walk through the department. It was even worse in the DVD department. The new release and promo runs were as big as the catalog and made no sense. Want to find a movie? Walk up and down the aisle. And don't expect to save any money, overall their DVD prices looked higher than those at CE stores.

The computer section looked like it was transplanted from a Big Lots for the most part. The notebook demos were encased in plexiglass, so forget playing with them. And price wasn't a selling point here either, prices on hardware and software looked the same as other retailers and the selection was pathetic.

The TV section, where they are really supposed to be putting an effort, was weak as well. There was nothing impressive on their wall, the prices were the same as elsewhere, with third tier brands making up the price-leaders.

I was never approached the whole time I was in the department. Remember, this is a suburban area with people with above average disposable income. In TVs I literally got within 3 feet of an employee who was using an endcap as his snack station and talking on his cell phone and he ignored me. Out of the half dozen employees on duty, there was one who seemed engaged and was actively helping a customer. The rest were just there to make their $8 an hour.

I hope this is a trend, because I consider myself Wal-Mart's Rush Limbaugh... I want them to fail. Except I don't have millions of followers. Or millions of dollars. Or a political party that wishes I would shut up.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

<< Home