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Wal-Mart is experimenting with not only delivering your groceries to your door, but with actually coming in your door, entering your kitchen, and stocking your fridge and pantry with your groceries. Seriously. I’m not making this up. You can read all the details for yourself here.

To be fair, this is a good idea not so much because of the specific approach they’re testing, but because of the thinking that Wal-Mart seems to be demonstrating in desperate response to the big chunk of their business they are losing to Amazon and the like. Kudos to them for asking how they can differentiate themselves by offering additional value for their customers.

It’s a bad idea because not only are there way too many moving parts in this approach, and not only because I predict it’s highly unlikely that there will be a big enough target market who will trust Wal-Mart with the “keys to their home”, but because they are getting too far outside what they know they can do well. Their core competencies if you prefer the fancy schmancy MBA term.

On the grocery side, Wal-Mart does a super job of using their buying power and the efficiency of how they operate to offer the consumer a vast selection and a remarkably low price. Bravo, Wal-Mart. Expanding the services they offer in that vein to include online ordering and curbside pickup makes excellent sense. Grocery delivery seems like a bit of a stretch and a gamble, but operationally that isn’t terribly far fetched, so that’s an idea worth a look. But to think that Wal-Mart will be able to cost-effectively field a team of competent delivery staff who their customers deem trustworthy enough to let into their homes I think will prove to be a promise they’ll have a hard time delivering on.

Whenever you chase after another target segment, chances are you’ll chase away your original customer. Whatever you do, you should not get greedy but stay true to your product type, your attribute, or your segment.” – Jack Trout and Steve Rivken, Differentiate or Die

 

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