Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ingenious Marketing at Walmart

Walmart had a barely-advertised sale this morning -a pre-black-Friday sale that started at 8 a.m. It was only online and on the radio.
One of the things they offered was a laptop for $298. It's not a fancy laptop by any means, but it's serviceable. And, of course, I had no working laptop after the untimely death of my $1200 machine recently. You may remember my post that was basically "laptops are crap and I'm not ever 'investing' in one again."
But, I have to have one. I just decided my next one was going to be much cheaper. I've been shopping around and the cheapest thing I had found was $359 at Best Buy and not as good a machine as this. When Michele mentioned it yesterday afternoon I decided I would go pick one up.
Even though it was after 2 when I got to bed, I got up a little after 6 and headed out. I was surprised to find the parking lot was not very full. I got back to electronics and there were about six people waiting, most of whom wanted X-Box or TVs. There was some confusion about which line to wait in for the laptop, but once that was determined it went smoothly. And, a big thank you to Judy, who handled the situation well.
Okay, so I replaced my laptop. I'm happy. I haven't even unboxed it yet and I'm happy.
But, beyond my personal purchase, I am very impressed with the concept. Walmart now has some idea of how their holiday season is going to go.
Our store got 26 of these laptops and all but two of them were sold when I was back there buying mine. I'm sure they were all sold by the time I got out of the store. But, if they hadn't sold them all they would now have more of the Christmas season to sell them so they don't get stuck with them. If they had had 100 people waiting in life for them they would have known they could order in many more and sell them.
They have information no other retailer has right now. By the time the day is over, and they combine the data from stores all over the country, they're going to be able to make decisions about what to order, how much to order, and how long it's likely to stay on the shelves. I have no retail experience, but those seem like really important things to know.
I know there are people who hate Walmart and I'm not going to debate the evils or the virtues. But you can't argue with the ingenuity of this. And, it's something many other businesses could have done - they mostly used their website instead of traditional marketing. (Just realized as I wrote that that I consider websites kind of "old school" marketing anymore, but I digress.) But, other businesses didn't do it. No doubt they will next year, but it is Walmart that took the risk in this economy that they would get stuck with a ton of merchandise. My guess is they will reap the rewards of that, but it was a risk. If 26 machines made their way to Hutchinson, Kansas, I'm guessing some stores got far more.
It's so simple. So incredibly simple. Hey - lets start our big sales sooner so we have more time to sell the merchandise before Christmas. And lets don't invest much money in advertising it. Then we'll know how much money we really have to spend to get people through the door. So simple. But oh so smart. 

Posted via email from Patsy's posterous

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