Posted by: thescoundrel | June 16, 2010

Best Buy and Wal-Mart Retail Fail


A couple of recent retailer experiences make me wonder just how interested local retailers are in seeking business. In my twenty-nine+ years on this planet I have managed to gain a great deal of insight to the retail world. I have been involved on both sides of the retail universe – as a purveyor of goods and services and as a consumer looking to make purchases of those same goods and services. Today I thought I would poke a textual stick in the eyes of two of the current-wave of giant retailers- Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

A thing about retail is you should never promise goods or services that you can’t deliver. It makes for an unhappy customer who in turn tells the tale to at least nine of their friends and family. Such was/is the story about Best Buy. An individual I know went to purchase an appliance from them recently. They were looking to take advantage of the next day delivery they offered. In what was probably a combination of poor store planning and of poor salesmen competence – the appliance was incapable of being delivered the next day. (Now in all fairness to BB they were not the only Big Box Store incapable of delivering on the next-day delivery promise in this tale I am sharing,  BB is getting the stick in the eye because they closed the sale.)  Now I am laying the blame on both the Store and the Salesman because in the end they are the ones responsible on keeping the next-day delivery promise. In fact the best date they could offer was over a week past the order date. There are numerous reasons why they probably could not fulfill their swaggering claims. Some of those could include the stores overselling of a particular model, poor delivery scheduling, the stores decision to purposely limit stock of certain items (this one happens a lot on low profit items at Big Box retailers), the stores incompetence of keeping sales staff aware of inventory shortage or it could have bee the sales staff incompetence of by not staying aware of stock availability. Whatever the reason the – store failed at fulfilling their advertised promise. And to make matters worse their delivery service exasperated the problem. In what was supposed to have been a case of delivery, setup and haul away the old product – the promised setup (for a couple in their 80’s) never happened. Plus the delivery drivers had to be cajoled into hauling the old product away. From start to finish the sale was a total failure.

In an instance more close to home, I was shopping at Walmart a few days back. I was in the market for a new fan. I have an extensive history in setting up retail merchandise displays. A pattern I have noticed at the Big Box stores (even grocery stores) is what seems a lack of ability to create customer friendly displays. Perhaps one of my biggest gripes is walking into a store where they have failed to properly sign and arrange merchandise.  Walmart as well as most other Big Box Stores are atrocious at signing and arranging  merchandise for customer usefulness. Which is made even more exasperating because they use a minimum of sales associates to operate their stores. On that day their merchandising incompetence cost the local Walmart the sale of a high-velocity fan.  When I went into the store many of the items were not signed in any discernible manner. In my experience that has become common practice for Walmart as well as many other big box retailers.  The items I was looking at were not signed on the shelves or even marked with any way telling the price on the boxes they were contained in. We are talking a $70 fan and the store did not have the foresight or protocol to properly sign their merchandise in order to sell it. A real stupid is as stupid does moment for Walmart- that has become a constant occurrence.  That is an inexcusable failure of management at all levels.

When considering both retail events – all I can see is a colossal failure of management, at all levels of Best Buy and Wal-Mart! You have to ask yourself – in an overflowing market of retail stores – are the two Big Box Giants really interested in our business? They certainly are not acting as if they are interested in our business!

Best Buy & Wal-Mart  – Retail Fail

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Responses

  1. In my humble opinion, any retailer’s most important product is their image; what customers perceive them to be.

    Unfortunately, ‘image’ is floating away in the same sewer as ‘service’ and ‘trust’. Ghost

  2. “In my humble opinion, any retailer’s most important product is their image”

    That is very true. Image is the key along with service from the initial contact through the life of the product . Price is also always an important factor -BUT- name me a major retailer that does not have some type of lowest price competition guaranty: then you are naming a retailer that is not serious about selling merchandise. Product for product you will rarely find hugely dissimilar prices unless one of the companies is using a product as a loss leader advertising gimmick. And unless the item is being sold at below cost – any competitive store you contact is looking to let you know they will match that price. Actually aggressive stores will seek to match the price even if the item is below cost as they are looking at possible add on sales along with a long term business connection with the customer. But the ultimate key returns to image. To build a connection with a customer, the store along with its employees need to create an image for the customer that they are interested in the customers business and that the store is willing to hustle and cater to their needs. Otherwise you can kiss any customer loyalty goodbye.


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