Things that Walmart Does Well

by Sandy L on November 8, 2010

Lately, it’s become kind of en vogue to pick on Walmart and I wanted to take a moment to buck the trend and mention some of the things they still do right. Note, I’m not being paid to say any of these things. It’s just a couple of recent incidents made me realize that Walmart still does do some things pretty darn well.

No Loyalty Rewards Cards

Okay, the reward card craze is seriously getting out of control. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t go anywhere and buy a sale item without whipping out a plastic card first.  I have at least 20 of these stupid cards and the only ones I use on a regular basis are my grocery store ones.  Wouldn’t it be great to just be able to buy an item on sale without wondering if you brought the right card with you?

I like that the price at Walmart is what it is, period, end of story.

Website to Store Option

It drives me bananas that Target’s website pricing does not match their in store pricing.  In addition to that, they don’t have a site to store option, so I can’t even utilize sale items without incurring additional shipping charges.

I ran into it again yesterday at Gymboree online. I had a merchandise credit that I was trying to use and when I got to the checkout, it wouldn’t accept my card number. I call customer service and they tell me I can only use the merchandise credits at a store and not online because they are two separate companies.  Plus, the nearest store to me is an outlet and I think the outlet won’t take non-outlet cards and vice versa.  So you have 1 store called Gymboree but 3 different sets of policies and none of the stores are linked in any way? Infuriating.

I like that Walmart has one face to the customer . Even if the online store is a separate business unit, I love that  it’s seamless to the customer experience.

Photo Services

Walmart has great prices on photo services. The website for holiday cards is extremely user friendly and even people with very low IQ’s can figure out how to use it.  I don’t have to fight the crowds to get my photos done. I can just do it in the privacy of my own home and pick them up when they’re ready or get them delivered to my house for an extra fee. I am pleased to have both options and I’ve always thought the quality was worth the price I paid.

Price Matching

If you’re so inclined, Walmart will price match any sale fliers for your local stores.  I find that they aren’t always the cheapest anymore for grocery items, but at least I know I still have the option to get the lowest price on something if I want to shop there.  In my area, super duper sale items tend to stock out at my local stores and I’m horrible at redeeming rainchecks. Now when that happens, I usually just go to Walmart with my flier and get it there.

Focus on Sustainability

Walmart’s gotten a bad rap over the years about their impact to the environment. As a result, they now have  a structured sustainability initiative. They just had a press release about promoting sustainable agriculture and doing more to support small farms. Someone with this kind of buying power can really move the needle.  This is a perfect example of people’s shopping habits leading to action on the part of big corporate America.  Consumers are really starting to support the little guy in lieu of big box stores like Walmart. In many cases we are paying more for those products too.  Someone smart at Walmart is realizing if they can’t beat them, they better join them.

I’m digging that Walmart seems to be listening to consumers and responding.  I’m sure readers will chime in and tell me they still do a lot of things wrong, but lately, I’ve been pretty happy with the way they are being managed. 

The Cons

The few cons I have is that they are no longer the cheapest place around and you can’t just assume they have the best prices anymore. 

I also never buy clothes there unless I’m desperate. Last season I bought a pair of winter gloves and they were falling apart at the seams before they were even worn. I returned them as soon as I noticed.  The same goes for generic toys. This summer I bought some el cheapo squirtguns and they had a 50% out of the box failure rate.   I’d rather not have the option to buy a $3 squirt gun if it’s not going to work or last more than a week.  Charge me $5 for a working one, please. Sometimes I wonder if they have quality control standards at all. 

So what’s your take on Walmart?

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Nicole November 8, 2010 at 9:50 PM

Walmart con out here: It is always PACKED with people and with the new super-Walmarts it’s much more difficult to find what I’m looking for than with the smaller ones. (Ex. I needed a specific sized tupperware, but it wasn’t in any of the three tupperware locations at the super walmart that I could find… in the end I got it at the grocery store where the tupperware collection was much smaller, but they had this standard size.) Plus the people at our local Walmarts don’t seem to be as nice as those at Target… once when I was heavily pregnant a woman in a motorized cart literally tried to run me down. Scary!

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Sandy L November 9, 2010 at 4:22 AM

Nicole – I remember when our Walmart first opened, they seemed to always just have 2 registers open and it took forever to check out. They fixed that thank god. I don’t have a super Walmart, but I did notice that the price of my diapers was $3 higher than the same ones in a Super Walmart Denver store. Competition even keeps Walmart prices lower it seeems. The shoppers are a different breed at Walmart. At least when I was grossly pregnant I didn’t feel out of place in my elastic waist band sweat shorts.

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Everyday Tips November 9, 2010 at 8:29 AM

First off, your jelly was delicious!!! I am so glad and thankful that you sent some to me. I had more at breakfast today, and I am excited to have some as a snack later today with the homemade bread. It is fantastic.

Second, I have a love/hate relationship with Walmart. I love the low prices on some groceries. I hate shopping their though. It is too big and the one I go to always seems to take forever. I only go when I absolutely have to, or if I am killing time waiting for a practice to end and I need to stock up on cereal or whatever. My mom loves Walmart though.

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Rachael Myers November 9, 2010 at 8:54 AM

hi! I have to chime in with my own love/hate relationship with Walmart. I came to my GIGANTIC Super Walmart after years of shopping at yours and hating every minute of it. At my new wonderful Walmart I do all my food and house supply shopping. I don’t even bother to shop around, because with 3 kids in tow I appreciate that I can get all I need in one spot and be done. My Walmart people are nice, professional and are happy to be working at Walmart. Sometimes to the point of annoyance. I know I look lost sometimes, the place is HUGE and I have 3 kids.
What I hate is how much of our income ends up there, as I do like to spread the wealth around to the “little guys” as well. I also hate their stocking, after weeks of buying a certain brand or size it will be suddenly replaced, moved, or gone forever. I also hate that if I need an out of season item, I had to think of it the season before and when that item is sold out, they do not restock. (ex: a new bike for my son’s Birthday in October. They had sold out back in June)
I am with you on the Walmart brand items and clothing items. They are poor quality and DO NOT have any long term staying power. We recently bought sneakers for school at Walmart (could not resist the price) and now they are falling apart after 2 months of wear. I will not buy any of our clothing needs there anymore. All that being said, I love my Walmart.

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Roshawn @ Watson Inc November 9, 2010 at 10:56 AM

I agree. Walmart simply would not be the largest and among the most profitable retailers if they were not a superior retailer, and they have held this position for a very long time. I do appreciate that they do not have a reward card and have the site to store options. I do get aggravated by Target’s lack of consistency with respect to prices (also, when do they slash prices again throughout the week… it varies by the item). Thanks for reminding us of some things that Walmart does well!

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Lindy Mint November 9, 2010 at 2:33 PM

Walmart did us well with back to school supplies this year, but that’s all we’ve utilized it for. Like Nicole said, I always have a hard time finding my way around, then I get angry, and frustrated, and vow never to come back. So, other than school supplies, the effort is not worth the savings.

But I will say, when I lived in a small town I went to Walmart all the time. Their deals on cleaning supplies were killer.

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Crystal November 9, 2010 at 4:17 PM

I love their prices on household cleaners and basic goods. I shop with coupons at Kroger or in bulk at Sam’s Club for almost all my groceries though.

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Nicole November 9, 2010 at 8:13 PM

Lindy– when we go visit my DH’s rural home town, Walmart is THE hangout and we go there at least once a day to pick something up (sometimes multiple times). Their Walmart is also a lot easier to get around in.

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Sandy L November 9, 2010 at 9:36 PM

Everyday Tips. Rock on. I am travelling to one of our work sites this week and brought some jelly. My VP came up to me today slighted that he didn’t get a jar. Funny. Ha ha to those scardy cats. You’re right about how big a time suck Walmart is though. My husband hates going there for that reason. It’s not easy to get to and it’s not easy to just run in and run out with what you need. Any little thing eats up an hour.

Rachael – Yeah. how did I forget the stocking out thing. They are ruthless with taking things off their shelves and changing preferred suppliers and it’s always sad when one of my staples disappears randomly from the store. I just was in there last week for pectin and they were stocked out. Happens all the time.

Roshawn – target’s policies bug me. “Target.com is excluded from our price matching policy” HUH? So, you’ll match a competitor’s price but not your own?

Crystal + Lindy – Yeah, my most common Wallyworld items are cleaning products, paper products and diapers. I live in a small town, so there aren’t a whole lot of options for me. I’m glad to have them.

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Money Reasons November 9, 2010 at 10:52 PM

I like Walmart too, but sometimes I go to the local markets downtown and buy from them instead. I do this to support the community in my small city. It’s not much, but it helps.

If you shop at the right times, Walmart traffic isn’t too bad.

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Barb Friedberg November 10, 2010 at 8:30 PM

I like Walmart. In one trip I can get groceries, toiletries, stuff for the house, gifts, gardening items, etc. The reality is, their low prices offer excellent value for rich and poor alike.

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Everyday Tips November 10, 2010 at 9:32 PM

Here is a Walmart update. I had to go there tonight to grab some detergent a garbage bags. My items were scanned, and I noticed after that I was over charged almost 4 dollars for the Tide Free. I went to customer service, which had one person working and was on the phone forever! I stood in line for 15 minutes,and I got my overage back plus the requisite 5 bucks for the scanner charging the wrong price. However, it was a very frustrating experience, especially since I needed to get home to dinner.

So, I am angry at Walmart right now!

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Sandy L November 11, 2010 at 5:51 AM

Kris – bummer. Walmart does take forever sometimes. It really is an event going there. My husband has banned me from getting prescriptions filled because he claims it takes an hour before it’s all said and done vs popping into CVS via the drive through. On the plus side, I’m glad you noticed the price scan error. I usually don’t notice those things until I get home and then I have to debate whether it’s worth the time and gas money to drive all the way back and get my $4 back..and it’s usually not.

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Suba @ Wealth Informatics November 12, 2010 at 2:00 PM

Our Walmart is almost always crowded, I go there once or twice a year max, that too around mid night. Before we had costco membership I used to go there to get garbage bags and stuff like that. One time we bought a vacuum, when I opened it, it was used, it even had stuff in it. The person who returned it didn’t even bother to clean it up I suppose. When I wen to return it, I was treated like some criminal who vacuumed her house and brought it back without emptying the vacuum. Don’t know why I would do that. After that I never bought anything more than $10. I will buy only if I can afford to lose it. But for a quick buy (when I can’t research and buy) they almost always have good prices.

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BeatingTheIndex November 13, 2010 at 12:21 PM

I had to admit that we cross the border in order to visit the super walmart in Plattsburgh, NY. With our Canadian dollar at par,the 1.5 hr drive is worth it since alot of prices are cheaper by 10%-20%! It just becomes tricky on the way back for declaring the stuff ;)

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Sandy L November 14, 2010 at 6:23 AM

Suba – My cousin bought one of those thick fancy bed foam mattress covers. I took it out and someone had previously bought it, cut a crib sized chunk out of it and returned it. When it got returned, no one said anything, but there are all kinds of people out there.

Beating the Index – I sure would drive that distance for a 20% savings. Back before home depot was in our town, the local hardware store marked up their prices by 40-50%. You better believe I was driving an hour to not give them my business. You can’t tell me that the entire mark up was economy of scale.

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Aloysa November 14, 2010 at 6:49 PM

I like Walmart. They are doing a lot of things right. But yes, their clothes are awful. I bought a few things there a few times and they either fell apart fast or hurt me (no kidding!).

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Karyn December 7, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Since our community received not one but two Walmarts, they have gotten better. It is much quicker to get through the check out line. I have horror stories of waiting atleast 15 minutes in line with two small children to buy one package of grading pencils. However, I prefer Target as the prices are similar but the clothing is slightly better quality. Plus this year they carried the red grading pencils.

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