Examining The "Walmart Effect"
O'Heir suggests that it is only a matter of time before larger companies catch up to the strategies of smaller competitors and cites customer service as one area where this is particularly true. Customer service at Walmart consists of simply saying "Yes" to anyone who even approaches the returns counter in an effort to avoid any conflict. Do you really expect anyone at Walmart take on home-networking issues that arise? That costs money and that is not within Walmart's business model. They may choose to push this customer service off to the manufacturers ... and wouldn't that be a lovely conversation between manufacturer X and specialty retailer Y?
O'Heir's point that independents must consider establishing home-networking divisions as a way to fight off mass merchants is extremely valid. And it's something Walmart can't do. For Walmart to have home-networking displays in every location that properly illustrate all the functionality and integration of products, software and services is a fantasy of galactic proportion. I invite any reader to go to any Walmart and let me know if every radio or pair of speakers in that car audio display works properly. My case here is rested.
My advice to specialty retailers is not to sell your stores just yet. As a matter of fact, I strongly suggest you open your next store in a Walmart parking lot. I also suggest you stay away from burritos with extra jalapenos before bedtime. Jeff is the last person you want to see in your dreams.