Walmart department stores garner lavish praise from millions of customers around the globe. Already the #1 retailer in the world, in many ways, Walmart has barely scratched the surface of its potential.
The company has made great strides over the past couple years, the effects of which have yet to fully bear out in the marketplace.
For instance, here in the U.S., thousands of Walmart Department Stores are undergoing strategic renovations to improve upon the design and traffic flows of the interior.
What's more is that Walmart Electronics departments are being shaped in the image of some of the most innovative shops around, drawing upon the best practices in both merchandising and retailing.
Most notably, the Apple Store concept that evolved the way in which customers engage with devices before purchase, is a useful improvement over the traditional electronics displays in most SuperCenters.
Open table displays, live demonstrations, and fully-functional electronics allow patrons to test-drive gadgets prior to buying.
Developments like these not only appeal to current Walmart Department Stores customers, but fuel the type of buzz and excitement which leads to invaluable word-of-mouth advertising.
Considered the Holy Grail of marketing, the benefits of real customers singing the praises of a brand has a lasting effect that cannot be overstated.
Peer-to-peer recommendations are always better received by consumers, as hearing about shopping deals from a friend is considerably more palatable than, say, television or radio advertisements.
What's more is that the entire supermarket shopping experience has been turned on its head by the Walmart Department Store Grocery initiative, which has been lauded as one of the greatest innovations in the company's 50+ year history.
The unprecedented success of Walmart Grocery came as a surprise to some analysts, though it was more likely than not that consumers would buy into the concept.
That's partly due to the inherent strength of the Walmart Brand, while much can be attributed to substantial research conducted on the subject over the past few years.
And prior to the launch of the Grocery Program at Walmart Department Stores, earnest attempts were made to capitalize on the changing paradigms and demographics of the country.
For example, with a maturing Millenial Population and growing demand for more healthful food options, Amazon Fresh was at one time the leader in the 'convenient produce shopping' business.
But the limiting factor which has stymied the growth of such programs is that, without a comprehensive network of physical stores and logistics infrastructure, the costs of maintaining/scaling these services is prohibitive.
So while many would-be grocers would love to make a foray into the fresh foods business, without a location footprint similar to that of Walmart Department Stores, it's simply infeasible to think that one can compete successfully against such a formidable counterpart.
Customers can now do all their grocery shopping online, drive to a local SuperCenter, and have their entire order delivered by a store representative — all without ever having to exit their vehicle.
This move alone has brought the brand into millions of homes which were not previous patrons of Walmart Department Stores, as reports show that many Grocery sign-ups are first-time Walmart customers.
Moreover, the number of online grocery store shoppers is predicted rise sharply, especially once folks catch on to the hundreds of free Walmart Coupons available.
And aptly, we here at DWGoods.com offer all of these grocery shopping coupons free of charge to our visitors. So without question, bringing the supermarket to your fingertips has been a game-changer for the entire grocery industry.
Furthermore, enhancements made in the Walmart online shopping store bode well for the retailer's future, given the small percentage of consumers who presently shop on the internet.
Thus, a sustained effort of promoting free Walmart coupons would do well to entice customers to buy more, and in some cases, pay less on Walmart.com.
In addition to the increased revenue generated for Walmart Department Stores, the brand trust and favorability metrics have also received a boost from the Grocery Service.
Human nature is such that we often ascribe a positive view to that which we deem essential, and service businesses are among the chief beneficiaries of this dynamic.
And it's uniquely true that, in general, farmers and grocers are held in high esteem, thanks to the central role they play in supporting the health and nutrition of the public.
So when the announcement came down that the majority of U.S.-based Walmart Department Stores would now offer fresh produce, as opposed to just frozen and canned goods only, an immediate sense of credibility attached to the brand like never before.
The reason being is that groceries, unlike Walmart's traditional assortment of discount goods and apparel, draws from a much larger crowd.
For years, the knock on Walmart Department Stores was that they catered exclusively to a certain subset of the population, with little-to-no outreach to other consumers of retail.
Households in the higher income brackets routinely responded indifferently to surveys about Walmart, while many stated that they had never visited one of its stores at all.
Limited product selection (quality) was one of the most common reasons given, in addition to the notion that Walmart was too old-fashioned/lacked an innovative spirit.
But all that changed when the Grocery Service rolled out, and industry followers believe that this latest offering is just the beginning of a new era for Walmart Department Stores.
Better positioned than anyone to cross-sell its wares, Walmart Department Stores continue to both broaden and diversify their merchandise.
Ultimately, the idea is to attract customers looking to, say, go clothes shopping into SuperCenters where they end up buying more than just apparel.
Walmart Department Stores are building out to become the one-stop spot for all things retail, while the website compels users by offering still greater selection and convenience.
So on all fronts, whether being grocery, drug, or furniture stores, Walmart is competing – and winning – in ways which would surely bring a smile to its founder's face.
All this and we haven't even touched on everything else that's housed in Walmart SuperCenters, such as tires, toys, mobile phones, prepaid cards, and more!
But what truly makes these stores shine are the people of Walmart: Employees who help run these facilities and assist millions of shoppers in the process.
With over 3,000+ sprawling department stores in the United States alone, any kink in the operations chain could spell disaster for such a massive network.
Retail competition is fierce, and while discount savings and convenient locations are indeed advantages, all it takes is a string of negative Walmart reviews to have a serious impact on the brand's reputation.
So the company deserves credit for its daily, uneventful service, while at the same time avoiding shame-worthy headlines and internal strife which plagues more than a few multinationals these days.
What's more is that not only is corporate stability good for investors and employees, but for loyal customers as well.
A perspective that often gets overlooked when assessing why certain companies endure, is one which considers consumer confidence in an organization's culture.
And while the average Walmart Department Store shopper interacts infrequently with onsite associates, and probably knows even fewer outside the corridors of a SuperCenter, doesn't mean that a mild sense of connection isn't felt to these workers.
(This is not to say that deep personal relationships don't exist between some shoppers and employees, as they most certainly do.)
The point here is that, given the friendly environment of Walmart Department Stores, a level of comfort and companionship is fostered in patrons, which, at least somewhat, explains the high volume of repeat business Walmart receives.
And one can be sure that the truly outstanding companies of the world take seriously the human element of their firms, and take affirmative steps to ensure that each individual – whether being a customer and employee – feels welcome.
In sum, it's relatively easy to spot the massive network of Walmart Department Stores and understand how real estate and logistics propel the business, but not everyone would be as quick to attribute the human capital of Walmart as critical to its success.
But it is in this area that the company exceeds the corporate standard by encouraging an spirit of inclusion, which adds strongly to both the appeal and value of its brand.
Walmart, Inc. has been a leader in the push to employ veteran, special-needs, and elderly, citizens when many other brands make no efforts to address these areas of concern.
In each case, hiring individuals in said categories poses unique challenges (opportunities) different from typical job applicants.
Outstanding ability and rich experience are all hallmarks of these groups, which, without them, the overall strength of Walmart would be compromised.
Critical thinking and personnel management skills are common attributes of military veterans, while a lifetime of learning fosters a sense of patience and understanding generally found in older folks.
Extraordinary empathy and compassion are assumed qualities of special-needs people, which is a definite asset per the nature of Walmart's operations.
Now couple all this human capital found in retail locations with the tasteful improvements being made to its digital storefront, and it's hard to imagine a situation in which a growing customer base is not a given for Walmart.
Notwithstanding the innovative programs and technology the company's pioneered recently, discount shopping deals remain the bedrock of Walmart.
When a shopper visits a Walmart Department Store, they're more than anything looking to find the best prices on a wide selection of products.
Whether it's eyeglasses or discount electronics on the list, Walmart savings are expected anytime one does business with the company.
And while everyone appreciates a good rollback special or Walmart clearance sale, surveys indicate that most don't consider these as reasons for staying loyal to the brand.
Consumers cite the predictable, everyday low prices customary of Walmart Department Stores as fundamental to why they continually choose the company over its competitors.
This sort of loyalty is all too rare nowadays, and especially so for brick-and-mortar retailers who have been hemorrhaging money as of late.
Furthermore, the consistency with which Walmart markets itself is also key to the lasting success of the firm, as customers, no matter which state or city they're in, can be confident in the experience they'll receive at Neighborhood Market or SuperCenter.
Everything from the corporate color scheme to the Walmart Department Store logo has gone virtually unchanged over the decades-long reign at the top of the 'retail food chain.'
And while the world, in general, has become a more volatile and complex space, simplicity and predictability have been harbingers of Walmart's success.
This observation is quite poignant, given the number of once-prominent brands that have suffered – or came mighty close to suffering – tragic downfalls in recent years.
For example, recall when the venerable Coca-Cola Company announced a change to its classic, century-old, flavor in hopes that 'being innovative' would win over more customers?
The consumer outrage and backlash were so swift that, almost immediately, Coke began retracting its previous statements in an attempt to quell an all-out PR firestorm.
The mere fact that a product to which so many consumers had become attached was even under consideration for change made many folks both angry and unsettled.
And in Coke's defense, it did well to heed the demands of its customers and leave the legendary soft drink fundamentally unchanged, much to the delight of the millions of Coke drinkers worldwide.
The moral to this example is that, unlike the Coca-Cola Company, myriad companies enact top-down alterations to either their product(s) or business models without first considering the effects on the end user.
Terms like 'bigger/better/newer' have become driving forces in the product-development world; although, as we've seen, innovation/alteration does not always go over well with consumers.
Thus, for many firms, it's much more prudent to strive towards the steady performance of Walmart Department Stores, in regards to their longstanding approach to the retail business.
For those of us who've been committed to discount shopping over the years, the premise that Walmart Department Stores play a larger role than just retailing is not a surprise.
But for others who are only now familiarizing themselves with the brand may not know just how intricate and influential Walmart is in thousands of communities around the world.
General grocers and large department stores are, along with other crucial services, bedrocks of modern society, providing citizens with essential goods and services.
Moreover, it would be somewhat of a stretch to equate such operators to municipal departments like fire and police protection, though on a purely social front, supermarkets are about as close to these networks as it gets.
(The aforestated observation is being made in the context of the fundamental role(s) some businesses play in the community.)
Of course, many of you reading this will already know this quite well, so please don't let me sound condescending.
But the intention is to explore more fully the various ways in which commercial 'anchors' contribute a range of benefits to consumers, and, governments alike.
Even looked at solely from an economic perspective, the multiplier effect that, say, a Walmart Department Store has on a town is both substantial and relied on by the members of that community.
Patrons depend upon the easy accessibility to an assortment of fresh produce, household goods, and pharmaceuticals bought from Walmart, which results in considerable tax revenue for the municipality.
This, in turn, helps fund such services like fire, ambulance, and police patrol, in addition to many others as well...
Schools, state hospitals, health and sanitation offices, and various regulatory agencies are all sustained by a solid tax base of which commercial interests are a part.
What's more is that community-oriented businesses like Walmart Department Stores contribute needed tax revenue to local governments in more than one way, with sales and property taxes being key.
Added to these are franchise taxes, a number of occupation and permit fees, plus a host of licenses – e.g., liquor and tobacco – that are mandatory to operate legally in most jurisdictions.
So on the surface, to some, it may seem like big companies like Walmart reap the rewards of a strong consumer market with little contribution in return, but this is, upon deeper analysis, simply not the case.
And while monetary benefits can and do accrue disproportionately to certain types of business, the local Walmart Department Store would not be one of them.
The point here is to recognize just how few companies commit to such large-scale development as does Walmart, thus helping to improve the lives of millions of people nationwide.
Building a typical SuperCenter is a monumental task that requires hundreds of contractors and suppliers, the majority of which are hired directly from the local population.
And given the extraordinarily complex and time-consuming nature of commercial construction, many of these contracts span the duration of a year+, providing uncommon stability and guaranteed income for the workers.
Now couple the positive economic impact that a Walmart Department Store has on its neighbors with the everyday low prices germane to the brand, and it's by no means a stretch to consider Walmart as both an ideal and essential member of the community.
The retail industry has been awash in red ink per the online shopping revolution, though again, Walmart Department Stores are well positioned to exceed expectations here.
Online coupons codes, free shipping campaigns, and grocery shopping convenience all point to strong growth for the e-com division, not to mention the Walmart Visa Gift Card which furthers the prospects of customers buying online.
The key trends in the digital commerce sector have been on an upward trajectory for a while now, and 2017 was the first year in which online sales exceeded their in-store counterparts.
Comprehensive data surveying large online retailers like Amazon and Walmart show a full 18% sales increase on Black Friday, with similar numbers coming in for Cyber Monday.
And while the considerable uptick in e-com activity has all but ruined a number of department store chains, it has had an opposite effect on Walmart's bottom line as a whole.
There are several answers to why Walmart Department Stores are buoyed by online shopping, though the primary reason is, perhaps the increased brand recognition and more secure payment processing systems.
Moreover, Walmart.com so closely resembles your typical SuperCenter in its aesthetics and design that customers naturally become interested in experiencing these stores in person.
And given the discount incentives for buying online and then picking up in-store, patrons are actually rewarded – in the form of cheaper prices – for visiting a local Walmart Department Store, instead of having their item(s) delivered to their home.
Such an arrangement not only benefits consumers' finances but those of Walmart as well.
That's because even while a booming e-com business markedly swells the company's top-line numbers, transportation and logistics expenses are some of the heaviest of all.
So over time, substantially less profit accrues to large-scale digital merchants who, in many cases, shoulder the lion's share of shipping costs in order to gain more market share over their competitors.
The differentiating factor for Walmart Department Stores, however, is that they can leverage their unrivaled physical network to both offer and test various ways in which to save on shipping costs and more.
And there's no doubt that the 'brain trust' governing Walmart modelled precisely the various expense trade-offs between offering product discounts for customers who pick up their orders in-store, versus those who select home delivery instead.
Most of what's being discussed here – e.g., Walmart Grocery Service, discounted merchandise, and free 2-day shipping – are all novel to the Walmart Brand, and will take a few years for analysts to gain clarity as to the financial ramifications of each initiative.
And even while it's impossible to determine how things will pan out in the future, it's quite reasonable to believe that Walmart Department Stores will continue to lead – both in-store and online – for years to come.
When most consumers visit modern Walmart Department Stores, the chief motivation pertains to price — in two different forms.
The first consideration is, of course, financial, and speaks to the economic benefits of Walmart's global scale and purchasing power, which results in an unrivaled pricing structure for thousands of goods sold in its stores.
The second area in which the multinational brand delivers value is by way of convenience, in terms of initial purchase and post-sales service.
Because in virtually every corner of the U.S., you're bound to find at least one Walmart Department Store located strategically in population centers both large and small.
And while larger metro areas receive the flagship SuperCenter, smaller locales have been served by Neighborhood Markets and affiliated merchants for decades.
What's more is that industry data shows that the lesser-known, but arguably more valuable, chain of Sam's Club Centers, have similar sales metrics in a wide range of markets.
However, notwithstanding the intangible value of convenience, the time-worn formula for the success of Walmart Department Stores has been their ability to compete – and win – on price.
Now add to those 2 foundational pillars to the exhaustive catalog of general merchandise, and it's easy to imagine how Walmart can help alter the paradigms of millions of consumers.
And in many ways, this shift is already happening per the e-com revolution, in which Walmart online shopping plays a major role.
What was once a mere afterthought for the firm has now become a chief focus of it, even as it has lots of ground to make up on this front.
Furthermore, a growing domestic and international middle class is a prime target for some of the more lucrative lines of retail, given the wide availability of quality merchants who offer attractive private label services to big names like Walmart.
And it is in this vein – the diversity of products sold – that the company can shape the molds of society most effectively.
There lacks a consensus among professional marketers about how much (if any) 'corporate conscious' initiatives move buyers in support of their message, but common knowledge points to the benefits of blue-chip brands supporting worthy causes.
For example, let's say that the managerial brass overseeing North American Walmart Department Stores felt obliged to weigh in on any number of social, political, or environmental concerns of the day.
And while conventional – television/radio/billboards/print media – channels would have their place in a well-designed marketing plan, it's likely that the greatest ROI (return on investment) would be derived from folks who are already supporters of the brand.
So handing out flyers, implementing topical signage, holding 'free stuff' rallies, and running various other promotions in Walmart Department Stores is a powerful way to raise awareness among large swaths of the population.
Therefore, unlike some other outfits who don't control such an integrated presence, Walmart can leverage its entire network in many ways.
Whether promoting select merchandise or running a variety of 'soft' marketing campaigns, the ever-growing brand can wield meaningful influence over its current and potential customers like few other companies in history.
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