COMMENTARY

Kagan: Will Walmart win with Jet.com private label?

Oct. 18, 2017 | by Jeff KAGAN

Photo: iStock.com

Walmart acquired Jet.com and is now getting ready to launch its own private label branded items. This is their attempt to better compete with Amazon.com.

However, I have a very important idea to help them win going forward. Something they haven't thought of yet. It has to do with how they take care of the customer.
 
Taking care of the customer is one of the most important keys to success. Take care of the customer and they will love you. Hurt the customer, and they will remember that as well.
 
While Amazon.com has been in e-commerce since the early 1990s, I can't remember mistakes that were not quickly corrected. Amazon knows it's better to pay for its mistakes and keep the customer long term. This is a lesson Walmart and Walmart.com needs to learn. Yet I see no movement in this direction.
 
Walmart ignores its mistakes and that creates a gap in customer satisfaction. Seeing the success of Amazon.com they are trying to build their online business. If they get out of their own way, they have an excellent chance to do just that, but they must take care of the customer relationships instead of burning them. That's where Walmart earns a failing grade.
 
Walmart earns failing grade taking care of customer
 
The hardest part is creating a great brand relationship with the customer. Customers love Amazon.com. They love Apple. But Walmart shoots itself in the foot and doesn't seem to care. With that kind of attitude, it will never get the customer to love them. And that's the problem.
 
This is the simple truth that Walmart.com has not yet learned. And because of this reason alone, customers won't develop the same kind of close relationship with the company that they have with Amazon.com or Apple.
 
Let me share an example that happened to me. As I have told this story, others have contacted me with their own version.

Over the last few years I started ordering from Walmart.com and Target.com as well as Amazon.com. They had a long way to go to catch up to Amazon.com, but I could see the potential. The benefit here was I could return items to any store instead of shipping it back.
 
While I never had a problem with Target, Walmart is a different story. Shopping on Walmart.com was always pleasant until they shot themselves in the foot.
 
I received an item that was not what I wanted, so I tried to return it to the store. This time I was not able to do so. They were confused and couldn't find it in their system, so they could not accept the return. I wasted time going to several stores and finally someone said it was because it was sold by another company using the Walmart.com site.
 
The Walmart mistake
 
When you buy from Walmart.com it doesn't mean you are buying from Walmart. So why does this concept work for Amazon.com? The reason is Amazon makes you aware whether you are buying from them or another company. And Amazon.com makes sure you are happy. That's why customers love them and trust them. That's the big Walmart mistake. They didn't tell me the rules were different with this purchase. They did not stand behind their customer satisfaction promise.
 
When I eventually figured it out, I sent it back to the seller. They charged me a restocking fee and a shipping fee. I should just have kept the thing for all it cost me to return it. This left a very sour taste in my mouth.
 
While I like Walmart and Walmart.com and want them to succeed, they never told me my purchase was not from them. They never said I could not return it to their stores. They never told me this purchase was different. Not telling me cost me time and money. They didn't take care of their customer. And at the moment of truth, they didn't take responsibility and keep the customer happy.
 
Bottom line, Walmart is burning their brand relationship with countless customers. When they screw up, they should take responsibility. This strained relationship is what Walmart must protect itself against. If they continue to screw up and not take responsibility, their online business will suffer, their retail business will suffer and their brand will be tarnished.
 
This is an important lesson for every other business to learn and to understand. When you screw up, take care of the customer, even if it costs you something to do so. By taking care of the customer you will develop a customer for life, just like Amazon.com does. I want Walmart and Walmart.com to be successful, but their level of success will come from respect for the customer. Are they up to the task? That is the question.


Topics: Consumer Behavior, Customer Experience, Customer Service, Department Stores, eCommerce, Marketing, Merchandising, Omnichannel / Multichannel, Online Retailing, Shopper Marketing, Top 100 Retail

Companies: Walmart



Jeff KAGAN
Jeff Kagan is a Wireless Analyst, Telecom Analyst, speaker, author and consultant. Over 30 years he has followed the Customer Experience through technology like wireless, wire line, telecom, Internet, cable TV, IPTV, Cloud, AI, Mobile Pay, FinTech and more. Email him at jeff@jeffKAGAN.com. www

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