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Walmart Backs Off from Price Match

pricematchJust a week ago we reported that Walmart had made an official policy of what many store managers were already doing: Walmart will match online prices, including Amazon’s pricing, in stores.

There are clear advantages for Walmart in doing this, not least of which is the ability to keep people from going shopping at Amazon. A shopper who sees that one item is cheaper at Amazon might leave the store, planning to shop at Amazon instead, and end up buying a whole basketful of products at the ecommerce giant instead of a whole basketful of products at Walmart.

Price matching also increases trust, and could even do away with the price comparison mindset — between the Savings Catcher and knowledge that Walmart will price match online merchants, consumers may just decide to be faithful Walmart shoppers and save some time.

But scammers very quickly figured out a sneaky way to take advantage of this.

It may be a challenge to get on the shelf at Walmart, but it’s very easy to get on as a third party, or “marketplace” seller. More than 2,000,000 people sell their goods on Amazon alongside Amazon’s goods. They pay fees, but it’s very easy to become an Amazon reseller — easier than getting a library card.

Some miscreants set up third party accounts and posted amazing deals, like a $90 PlayStation. Amazon quickly removes shady items like this, but an Amazon marketplace seller can post the item and snap a screenshot before the item is taken down. If they’re quick, they can get their screenshot and then take down the item before they even get caught by Amazon, leaving their account in good standing so they can run the scam again.

Walmart associates honored some of these fake prices, and some of the scammers boasted about their tricks on social media.

Walmart quickly changed the policy. Saying, “We can’t tolerate fraud or attempts to trick our cashiers,” Walmart limited the price matching to 30 top online retailers, with no third-party sellers, membership sites, or eBay and similar auction sites.

Walmart was able to catch and shut down this scam quickly, so there was little harm done to Walmart and probably none to honest shoppers, either.

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Site-to-Store Accuracy in Retail Link

Male getting distracted with the internetRetail Link empowers suppliers with data-informed category management. But there is some question about how accurate Retail Link is across channels.

The traditional Walmart shopper steps into the Walmart store in Houlton, Maine, buys three cartons of yogurt and a shower curtain made by your company, and checks out. You see your shower curtain sales, including that sale in Houlton, and your Market Basket report lets you know that your shower curtain was bought along with yogurt.

But it’s not that simple now.

You know how many products you sold in each store. But if the customer shops at and picks up an item in the store, you may not be seeing that transaction correctly.

As Walmart works on data enhancement for Retail Link 2.0, they’re finding that and the physical stores have different hierarchies. This leads to data integrity issues and data mismatches as you (and they) try to align the categories.

In particular, it can lead to data issues with .com inventory for site-to-store sales. We hear that these issues are being worked on and overcome. In the meantime, you’ll find that looking at the item level and rolling up from there will give you more accurate information.

Check out our Supply Chain classes to get more insight into the issues that can affect you as a supplier.

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Retail Link Training in San Diego

san-diegoIt’s a busy time of year, but we’re all looking ahead to 2015. If you’re planning to increase your skills next year, 8th & Walton vendor development courses should be on your list.

Combine business with pleasure by considering upcoming classes in sunny San Diego.

Courses Available in San Diego

January 12, 2015

RLNK212 – Accounting, Invoicing & Deductions – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM – $650

Learn how to optimize cash flow through effective use of purchase orders, invoicing information, and accounting procedures. read more…

January 13, 2015

RLNK101 – Beginning Retail Link® – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM – $650

Get hands-on training for the most common functions of Retail Link®. read more…

January 14, 2015

RLNK201 – Intermediate Retail Link® – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM – $650

Intermediate Retail Link® is designed to help suppliers get more out of  the Walmart database. Increased Retail Link® knowledge makes key aspects of your business more visible and measurable. read more…

January 15, 2015

SPLY201 – Planning & Forecasting – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM – $650

In this course we examine the role of the Planner and Analyst, then focus on the primary components of strategic planning (seasonality, assortment planning, forecasting, etc.). read more…

January 16, 2015

SPLY202 – Replenishment & Inventory Management – 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM – $650

You will gain an understanding of how to effectively recommend and implement strategies in the area of seasonality, forecasting and inventory management. read more…

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ibeacon-privacy1-1024x626Menasha Packaging has been creating innovative packaging for CPG companies for more than 165 years, and now they’re at the forefront of a new wave of on-shelf technology. In partnership with Shelfbucks, Menasha is adding iBeacons to their point of purchase merchandising.

iBeacons are a relative of GPS systems. They can recognize the presence of nearby smartphones, allowing software to trigger a push notification or even a payment. Imagine that you have a display of cookies in packaging with an iBeacon and a customer who has signed up to receive texts from you comes up to the display. The iBeacon can trigger a coupon to be pushed out to that consumer. She’s already thinking about buying your cookies, and now she has that final push that will make her put them into her basket.

The iBeacon can collect information, too. It can identify when a smartphone (and presumably the consumer who owns that smartphone) comes into range, measure the length of time they spend near the display, and note when they leave. This technology in a merchandising display allows manufacturers to track the performance of the display more precisely than just by tracking sales. Seeing that a display caused shoppers to linger for a week before it showed an uptick in sales could be valuable information for planning future displays.

An iBeacon can take many different forms, including a USB drive, a Bluetooth dongle, or a coin-sized device. iBeacons use little power and are inexpensive enough to treat as a disposable device, so they’re perfect for a store display. While “iBeacon” is often used as a common name for this type of device, it is actually the Apple version of the technology. Motorola and some other companies have competing devices.

Menasha creates 40 million POP displays each year for hundreds of different brands, so they’re a clear choice for the frontrunner in using the technology.

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Doing the Math

The most recent episode of Saturday Morning Meeting was all about the numbers.

Geoff Anderman of Turning Point Capital shared six ways to finance your business. Read all the details.

The Single Parent Scholarship Fund event, Golftoberfest, raised nearly $20,000 through the support of 54 companies, 250 participants, and 68 volunteers.

David Cooper of Transactional Insights shared some thoughts on how business insights can come from retail data.

“We’re talking about social media and big data and so forth,” Cooper says. “I think with sales data, we’re gonna rediscover the bounty of insights that we can get.”

Cooper finds that the way suppliers look at the data they garner from Retail Link and similar sources works for the short term — getting information together for a buyer’s meeting, for example. But insights for the long term are also available in that data. They just have to be approached differently.

“The problem lies at the interface between the sales person and the buyer,” Cooper says. “These are two of the most time-starved people in Bentonville. They just don’t have time to work their way through dashboards and scorecards and so forth and be insightful at anything but a very aggregated level of product and geography.”

Looking at the data in terms of the drivers of sales can be a powerful force for marketing and decision making.

Finally, Saturday Morning Meeting brought the numbers to a human level with the story of Billy Westbrook of Scrubblade, a small Walmart supplier with a big story to tell. D&B Credibility Corp shared Westbrook’s story to help other companies see the importance of business credit. When his big chance came, Westbrook was able to take advantage of it.

Read more on finance.

Enjoy the whole episode in the video above or the podcast below.


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Walmart Price Matches Amazon

Price FightWalmart price matches with other stores and about half the stores, according to Reuter’s quote from Greg Foran, were matching Amazon and other online-only merchants as well.

Today, 5,000 stores were given explicit permission to do so.

Since we know that consumers check prices on their phones while in the store — and order the items on their phones while they’re at it — managers can now salvage the sale by matching the price. Getting the lower price without having to place an ecommerce order on a phone is simpler, even with Amazon’s 1-click checkout.

It’ll also give consumers a positive experience in the store. Compared with the experience of having to leave the store without the desired product in order to save a few cents elsewhere, and the possible discomfort of being caught showrooming, a gracious offer to match the Amazon price can create good feelings about Walmart that will pay off in the future.

Combined with the Savings Catcher app, making the Amazon price match official lets Walmart reinforce its low price leader image just in time for holiday shopping. Giving shoppers confidence that they won’t miss out if they quit shopping around for the best prices could pay off handsomely on Black Friday and beyond.

This news comes along with a leaked memo urging Walmart store managers to improve store-level execution (it’s not clear why this was news; a retailer asking managers to be sure fresh groceries are fresh and wholesome doesn’t seem gossip-worthy) and good news on earnings that has lifted Walmart’s stock prices. All around, Walmart has had a good week.

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Orchestro Inventory Management Survey

Orchestro-logo1Inventory management and on-shelf availability issues are among the most frustrating challenges suppliers face. Orchestro and 8th & Walton are partnering to benchmark both best practices and the areas which still present challenges.

You can help!

Orchestro and 8th & Walton have jointly developed a new survey on inventory management and current forecasting methods. Your input is important, and you can take the survey here.  It will take no more than 5-10 minutes of your time and all responses will be anonymous.

In recognition of your contribution to the research, survey respondents will be invited to an exclusive webinar with “Dr. Inventory” himself: Dr. Matt Waller.

Dr. Waller is the author of The Definitive Guide to Inventory Management: Principles and Strategies for the Efficient Flow of Inventory across the Supply Chain. He is also the chair of the Supply Chain Department at the Sam Walton College of Business in the University of Arkansas, holder of a patent for inventory management technology, and the Chief Data Scientist at Orchestro.

Orchestro creates enterprise-level software that helps suppliers capture and analyze data from consumer demand to on-shelf availability, harmonizing consumer trends and market performance with in-store execution for true end-to-end data management.

8th & Walton is the nation’s top source of Retail Link training and supplier development services, offering a range of classroom training and expert consulting services for the mass market supplier community.

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What Can You Do about On Shelf Availability Issues?

Do you think it’s the retailer’s problem if your goods aren’t on the shelves when they should be?

Think again. In-store execution may be the top complaint about Walmart among Walmart suppliers (28% expressed dissatisfaction in a recent survey), but suppliers face the consequences:

  • Fewer sales, because your customers can’t buy your product if it isn’t on the shelves
  • Fewer reorders, because product isn’t reordered if it’s somewhere in the store
  • Losing sales to competitors whose products are on the shelf
  • Losing future sales if customers get out of the habit of looking for your product
  • Losing shelf space or even stores because of inaccurate impressions of product performance

The good news is, there are actions you can take to improve OSA. You don’t have to wait and hope for Walmart to do something. There are tools available and strategies that will really make a difference for you and your brand.

Mike Graen of CROSSMARK, Bill Akins of Rockfish, and Dr. Brent Williams of the Sam Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas will present a full day of hands-on learning at the CROSSMARK Center for Collaboration.

The state of the art facility will allow a full day of experiential learning that will send you back to your company with practical, actionable ideas that will make an immediate difference in your OSA issues. For a fraction of what you’ll lose in sales during this holiday shopping season, you and your team can get set to tackle OSA issues.

Register now!

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Showrooming and Webrooming

showroomingeCommerce has introduced new ways to shop. People aren’t simply wandering into a store and buying whatever they find appealing. We’re living in the information age, and consumers are taking advantage of that fact. Shoppers have more information available to them than ever before, and they are using that information to make the best purchase. Showrooming and webrooming are changing the way people shop.

Up until recently, consumers weren’t necessarily expected to know anything about a product. Unless you were just a coffee enthusiast, you probably wouldn’t know all the differences between Turkish, blade, and burr grinders. You wouldn’t know which one was best, or what materials it should be made out of. You would rely on a knowledgeable salesman to tell you why you should buy grinder A over grinder B. You would thank the salesman for his time and make your purchase, or maybe if you were feeling ambitious, you would drive across town to another store to compare prices and then choose which store to buy it from.

Shopping in the information age makes that method look like a horse and buggy. Today, serious shoppers know more than the salesman and aren’t afraid to buy their goods from halfway across the globe to save a few bucks. A recent study from UPS found some striking data from consumers:

  • 55% would rather shop online, no matter where they do their research.
  • 61% say their desktop or laptop computer is their favorite way to connect with an omnichannel merchant.
  • 39% usually research and buy online, 21% usually research and buy in-store — leaving 40% of shoppers, the largest group, using both online and in-store channels.

Showrooming, the top choice of 14%,  puts a new spin on an old way of shopping. Consumers go into brick and mortar stores and examine and compare products. Once they figure out what they want to buy, they hop online and find the cheapest place they can get it, sometimes doing so on their smartphone before even exiting the store. Consumers have a world of online suitors looking to undercut the competition and make the sale, so often online prices will be much lower than prices in a physical store.

Webrooming, the top choice of 13%, is kind of a renaissance for brick and mortar shopping. Instead of first going into a store and then seeking a purchase online, consumers research and compare products online and then look to buy in a physical store. People are able to find out everything they need to know online, from how and where a product was made, to how well it performs, and then drive to a store a few miles away and avoid waiting a week for shipping. Add the 6% who buy online and pick up in a store, and we see that brick and mortar stores are still ahead.

Webrooming and showrooming both show us that the modern consumer isn’t relying on a single channel for making their purchases. It’s not all online, or all in the store. It’s a combination of the two. In fact, 14% of shoppers prefer to do their research both online and in the store. These shoppers are evenly divided on whether they’d rather shop online or in the store.

A new Mozu study takes it further, saying that the majority of consumers studied consider omnichannel integration the most important thing a retailer can do for them, and 35% would be open to completely new types of shopping experiences… if retailers came up with new ideas.

The days of anger over showrooming are past, but so are the days of triumph over webrooming. Omnichannel is here. Read more in 8th & Walton’s free omnichannel ebook.

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HTML5 vs. Native Apps

Every supplier needs a website, and increasingly, suppliers also want apps.

Movista’s Stan Zylowski talked with Andy Schuch about the different frameworks available for apps.

Can you do without an app? As consumers increasingly use their smartphones while shopping, suppliers increasingly want to reach shoppers with an app. Don’t forget, however, the Zero Moment of Truth: most shoppers have already done their research and made their decisions before they come into the store. Always-on shoppers will access your website on any device they happen to be using, whether it’s their desktop computer at work during a coffee break, their big-screen TV at home during a commercial break, their laptop while waiting at the airport, their tablet as they unwind in the evening, or their phone in the store aisle.

This omnichannel reality means that a responsive website — a website that look good on any size of screen and is accessible on any device — is the highest priority.

Once you have that in place, it’s time to think about an app. And the first decision to make is whether to choose an app that will work on a broad range of devices or one that is built specifically for each device.

A native app, built just for the Apple operating system or the Android operating system, etc., has some advantages:

  • Native apps tend to be faster.
  • They can be built to work (or at least to do some things) offline.
  • Building anything for multiple operating systems requires trade-offs, so a native app can be optimized specifically for the operating system you’ve chosen.
  • Those trade-offs show up during extensive and intensive cross-browser testing, which can lengthen the amount of time it takes to deliver the app. Native apps may be faster to build.

The alternative to native apps is HTML5. HTML stands for “hypertext markup language” and 5 is the current version of HTML. HTML is the language of the internet, and websites are largely written in HTML. An HTML5 app also has some advantages:

  • An HTML5 app will work on all mobile devices, as long as they have internet connections. Native apps will work only on the device they’re built for.
  • It’s less expensive to build one HTML5 app than to build multiple native apps for all your consumers’ devices.
  • More developers use HTML5 — in a recent survey, 91% of the developers surveyed used it. This gives you more choices and a better chance of finding support when you need it.

At this point, most developers use a hybrid approach, using HTML5 as well as native code and in some cases other cross-browser technologies as well. Whichever way you choose to go, be sure to discuss your options with your developer.

Enjoy the whole episode in the video above or the podcast below!

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