As we discussed last month, the tough times continue for Wal-Mart. As a result, two of its various new initiatives to turn things around are a customer service pledge and introduction of the Price First brand.
With regard to customer service, Wal-Mart is going to offer a checkout promise this holiday shopping season. Shelly Banjo reports for the Wall Street Journal that:
In an attempt to lure more customers this holiday season, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is promising to staff each of its cash registers from the day after Thanksgiving through the days just before Christmas during peak shopping times. The move, called the ‘checkout promise,’ is aimed at addressing one of the retailer’s biggest customer complaints: long waits in checkout lines, which can cause even more frustration when positions aren’t fully staffed. The pledge will cover hours typically on weekend afternoons but which can vary by store. ‘We feel good about price and having the top gifts of the season, so the next priority is about getting customers in and out of the stores quickly,’ Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart’s chief merchandising officer, said in an interview. ‘Taking the possibility of waiting in long lines off the table will attract more people into stores.'”
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Photo by Reuters
And to re-establish with customers its emphasis on low prices, Wal-Mart is rolling out its Price First private brand that is intended to appeal to generic brand shoppers — those interested in the deepest discounts. Monica Watrous reports for Food Business News that:
“Price First, a new opening-price-point private-label line, is set to debut nationally in Wal-Mart U.S. stores in the coming months. Peanut butter, pasta, snacks, baking mixes, and condiments are among items offered at significantly lower prices than branded products. Over the past year, Wal-Mart piloted approximately 50 items in a couple of hundred stores and now has expanded distribution to more than 2,500 stores, according to a company representative.”
“‘In an environment where customers have so many choices about where to shop and how to buy, and many of them are feeling pressure on their budgets, we have to be at our best,’ said Doug McMillon, president and chief executive officer of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., during an August conference call with financial analysts to discuss second-quarter earnings. ‘That’s why it’s so important for us to deliver a compelling customer proposition of low prices and quality service for every transaction.’”