Walmart has changed the way a lot of companies do business. From being accused of stifling local competitors to changing the way electronics giant Apple sells its products. From selling groceries the chain, the largest retailer in the world, sells everything from automotive parts, through clothing to the latest in electronics. They offer banking services (through local partnerships), automotive servicing, have McDonald franchises in-store, offer low cost pharmacy prescriptions. So what would your job look like if Walmart moved into your space and offered the services you offer?
Walmart as Role Model
I know a lot of people will be horrified to see that headline. Walmart as a role model is not the image that most companies want their people to think of. Certain sections of the media lambasts the “people of Walmart” using their customers to highlight things that are wrong with the overall population in the US. But take a step back from that for a moment and consider how the retailer has grown in many different directions. Five years ago could anyone have imagined that Walmart would be selling iPads or be the first retailer to sell iPhones outside of an Apple store?
More and more businesses are realizing that if they want to bring their product to a mass audience then partnering with Walmart is the way to do it. Apply that thinking to your business, what do you bring to the table that would make other companies want to partner with you and have you offer their services or have them offer your services?
Walmart As Your Competitor
Imagine you woke up this morning to the news that Walmart was now offering the same services as you provide. What is your response? How are you going to change your business model to adapt to the fact that the world’s biggest has moved into your space? This might sound like a ridiculous proposition after all is Walmart really going to offer what you do? Maybe not but consider who the Walmart of your industry is and think of it in those terms. In a tough economy it is not that unheard of for large organizations to start spreading their net wider to capture smaller accounts, ones that they would have ignored in the past.
Do you have a strategy in place or even a few random thoughts about how that would impact you or would you just give up? Planning for something, even if it is extremely unlikely is a good exercise in improving your overall business. What are you not doing for your clients that you could be doing. Who could you partner with to expand your offerings, what products or services exist that are complimentary to your core offerings that would make your clients even less likely to move away from you as their provider?
Walmart and service
While the level of service varies from store to store and the lines at checkouts vary in length, what can’t be disguised is that Walmart wants to help it’s customers. It’s even written on the back of their staff vests. Are you that obvious with your customer service? Do you truly wear your love of your customers and clients on your sleeve? Behind closed doors I don’t know of a single service or product provider who hasn’t railed against their customers – some days are just like that, the frustrations, the complaints that are unjustified, those difficult people that you just can’t seem to please. We’ve all been there. How you handle them and how you leave the situation is what counts.
Think about that for a moment, would you honestly wear that vest to your next networking event? Can you honestly say that you want what’s best for your customer or do you just want the next invoice paid? In tough economic times it can be hard to find the balance between your own needs and that of your customers. Doing so however can lead to huge rewards, placing you as the go to place for your customers. Suddenly, at least in your corner of the world, you become the Walmart for your customers, a provider of all their needs.
So how would Walmart do your job?