Two stories popped up this morning that relate to Walmart's continuing battle to figure out how to transform dominance in bricks-and-mortar retail sales to the same kind of crush-the-competition success in the virtual world of online sales. First up is this report by Madeleine Johnson headlined Walmart's Unoriginal ShippingPass is Still No Match for Amazon Prime. Johnson writes:
America’s largest retailer Wal-Mart Stores recently announced the expansion of its ShippingPass membership program that promises free, two-day, no-minimum deliveries of products purchased on Members pay an annual cost of $49 after a free 30-day trial for new users. Sound familiar? Well, that’s because it’s an almost exact rip-off of America’s largest online retailer Amazon's popular membership program Amazon Prime. With Prime, members also get free, two-day, no-minimum deliveries on its products but at a price of $99 per year, or $10.99 per month.
Johnson continues at length, but in summary: she ain't impressed. The second story, focused on recent events in China, comes from Jack Foley in E-commerce Is Becoming The Achilles Heel For Wal-Mart. Foley writes:
Sometimes in business, you have to succumb to market conditions and just decide to walk away or change your plan of attack. There is no point in consistently trying to make an impact in a market because ultimately the balance sheet (and shareholders) are going to suffer. This is why I see Walmart's new alliance with becoming successful in the long run, because it will mean that can concentrate on what it is good at (improves its presence in important product categories online) and Walmart can focus on building sales in its offline stores (which has been the hall-mark of this company since day one). Some analysts have stated that this new deal is an act of resignation regarding its online aspirations in China but I don't see it this way. Yes, the sale of Yihaodian to will reduce its risk (and potential reward in China some may say) with regards to e-commerce sales, but Walmart has come out of this deal with some distinct advantages.
Foley is impressed, so we'll call this duo a tie. Peter Cohan, writing in Why Walmart's Free Shipping Is No Threat To Amazon for Forbes, offers a tie-breaker:
Walmart---seeking to upstage Amazon Prime day---just announced a free shipping offer. Should Amazon shareholders be quaking in their boots? By comparing customer reviews of Walmart and Amazon I believe the answer is not bloody likely.
That's too the point. Jeff Hess: Have Coffee Will Write.

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