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Businesses The Almighty Buck

Wal-Mart, Amazon Battle For Online Retail's Future 272

Posted by kdawson
from the bezos-versus-golaith dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Amazon and Wal-Mart are waging a price war for the future of online retailing that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys, and electronics. The tussle began last month over which company had the lowest prices on the most anticipated new books and DVDs this fall, but has now spread to select video game consoles, mobile phones, even to the humble Easy-Bake Oven. 'It's not about the prices of books and movies anymore. There is a bigger battle being fought,' said Fiona Dias, executive vice president at GSI Commerce, which manages the Web sites of large retailers. 'The price-sniping by Wal-Mart is part of a greater strategic plan. They are just not going to cede their business to Amazon.' Wal-Mart, with $405 billion in sales last year, dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America in its 4,000 stores, while Amazon, with $20 billion in sales, caters mostly to affluent urbanites who would rather not push around a cart. But Amazon is expanding its slice of the retail pie at an alarming rate — its sales shot up 28 percent in the third quarter of this year; and sales in Amazon's electronics and general merchandise business are up 44 percent. 'We have to put our foot down and refuse to let them grow more powerful,' says Dias. 'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.'"
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Wal-Mart, Amazon Battle For Online Retail's Future

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  • Re: Products (Score:5, Informative)

    by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:34PM (#30216724) Journal

    Last Wednesday, Wal-Mart dropped the price of the oven to $17, from $28, as part of its "Black Friday" deals. Later the same day, Amazon cut its price, which had also been $28, to $18.

    Well, color me confused, I see it as $18 on both Walmart's [walmart.com] and Amazon's [amazon.com] site.

    It began last month with what appeared to be a public-relations-oriented competition on book prices, with both companies (along with Target, based in Minneapolis) dropping prices on books like "Under the Dome," by Stephen King, to below $9.

    What? Walmart: $14.49 [walmart.com] Amazon: $14.50 [amazon.com]

    Don't get me wrong, this is great news for consumers but I think you're just seeing preperation for a Black Friday feeding frenzy and not actual 'price wars.'

    'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.'

    Wal-Mart stays away from heavily populated areas and makes most of its bank from the heartland anyway. I actually see this as Wal-Mart trying to steal a piece of the online pie if it isn't just a little bit of good ole capitalistic competition. If you think Wal-Mart's been losing business, their stock sure isn't showing it [google.com].

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      What? Walmart: $14.49 [walmart.com] Amazon: $14.50 [amazon.com]

      The cited prices applied at the book's release. They've gone up in the intervening month.

    • Re: Products (Score:5, Informative)

      by Beardo the Bearded (321478) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:49PM (#30216938)

      You think that's bad? Try being in Canada. It's like a whole other country. ;) For most stores, the online policy is "you should order lube too, because Customs is going to ream you with a cheese grater".

      Add 12% tax, $5 customs handling, $45 brokerage, ~$20 shipping, and 6% duty onto just about anything you buy from the US online. Then wait 4-6 weeks for the item to arrive.

      • Re: Products (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:15PM (#30217218)

        Ahhh. You must have used UPS. Pretty much everyone I know here (Ontario) avoids them for cross border shipping. They hit you with a tonne of hidden and unexpected charges and I know people who have been burnt really bad by this (ended up paying more than just buying it retail here)

      • by amilo100 (1345883) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:30PM (#30217392)
        Add 12% tax, $5 customs handling, $45 brokerage, ~$20 shipping, and 6% duty onto just about anything you buy from the US online.

        I was under the impression that Canadians liked paying taxes.
      • by abigor (540274)

        I order from Amazon.com all the time, and I've never dealt with taxes and brokerage. There's shipping and handling and duty, and that's it. Items usually arrive within a week. I think you are making this up.

    • Re: Products (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Red Flayer (890720) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:16PM (#30217226) Journal

      Well, color me confused, I see it as $18 on both Walmart's and Amazon's site.

      What? Walmart: $14.49 Amazon: $14.50

      Don't get me wrong, this is great news for consumers but I think you're just seeing preperation for a Black Friday feeding frenzy and not actual 'price wars.'

      Prices have since changed, so the prices you've found don't reflect historical pricing. As for the "Black Friday feeding frenzy" vs. price wars... those aren't mutually exclusive. Periods of high sales volume are when it's most important to be able to adjust prices relevant to competition -- especially if engaged in a price war to capture volume.

      Wal-Mart stays away from heavily populated areas and makes most of its bank from the heartland anyway.

      Hah. How many Walmarts are there in NJ, the nation's most densely populated state? Lots. How about the San Francisco Bay area, as another poster pointed out?

      At any rate, it is competition. What cracks me up is that someone siding with Walmart is claiming that Amazon is trying to drive B&M shops out of existence, and Walmart must defend B&M retail outlets against the predations of Amazon. Seems to me that Amazon is playing the same game Walmart played that drove all the traditional retailers out of business... giving customers lower prices due to reduced overhead.

    • Their stock [yahoo.com] seems pretty flat to me. Especially when you compare it to Amazon's.

    • Re: Products (Score:4, Interesting)

      by ISoldat53 (977164) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:46PM (#30217626)
      Let's see if they lower the price on Apple products.
    • by afidel (530433)
      Wal-Mart is capitalism in action, for all the good and bad that entails. A recent study showed that Wal-Mart has save the mean family $3k/year and the median family $650/year in the last two years. They have also kept wages depressed around the world.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by loteck (533317)
        For those interested in the study, you can find it on IHS Global Insight's page: pdf here [ihsglobalinsight.com].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:34PM (#30216726)

    Amazon has one distinct advantage: I will never buy anything from Walmart. That doesn't necessarily mean I will buy it from them instead, but at least I'm more likely to.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      You can go ahead and just pay more for the same thing. I don't mind.
      • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:22PM (#30217294)

        You can go ahead and just pay more for the same thing. I don't mind.

        Except a lot of times it's not the same thing. Walmart is large enough that they can convince (read: coerce) manufacturers to making Walmart Edition versions of mainstream items. Walmart isn't the first to do this, but IS the first to do this with huge players like Whirlpool and Sony. No doubt this is because the big players can effectively be shut out of the lower middle class market by Walmart marketing the off-brands. It's a game of join the devil or die. I laugh when I see a Walmart commercial with the "Same Brands, Better Prices" theme. It's somewhat ironic that these companies that so closely guard their brand names to exploit brand recognition to imply quality are willing to undercut themselves just to get shelf space in one of the most powerful retailers in the country.

        Now, those retail-specific models? You might have encountered them when trying to comparison shop and the model number you picked up from a Walmart placard cannot be found online or at other shops. Sometimes they differ by minor things: a lesser warranty or using factory-second plastic castings with a little more excess flash or slightly mismatched colors. Sometimes they differ by major things: lower class LCD panel with more permitted dead pixels or appliances with lower MTBF or lower tolerance components. A savings of pennies for a handful of resistors could mean the difference between shipping 50,000 units to Walmart or not.

        That said, Amazon does it too, but for a much more customer-positive purpose. "Frustration-Free Packaging" takes manufacturer cooperation and requires them to make stuff for Amazon but it's not about presenting a false economy.

        I know which company I'd rather give my money too, even if it happens to be a dollar or two more.

        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by ISoldat53 (977164)
          Sony's been doing this for years. They put the retailer's label on the same products various retailer sell each with a separate model number. When you go to look up a part number it will list several model numbers that it works on.
          • by mea37 (1201159)

            I don't think you understand what GP's saying.

            It's not about store-branded packaging of the same product.

            It's about an inferior product sold using the same brand, same packaging - essentially sold as "the same product" (unless you compare the mfr model #).

        • by X86Daddy (446356)

          A specific example of this were the aquarium filters made by Marineland. The Walmart ones were exactly the same as ones found in stores and online for usually about $10 more... Walmart's lower price was due to the lack of a spinning, cylindrical biofilter, and instead just a plastic mesh one.

          That said, those filters were indeed branded differently with different product names, etc... but the plastic molds and most of the parts were exactly the same. I've not seen examples where something at Walmart was tr

        • by Dare nMc (468959) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @04:34PM (#30218222)

          from your post, I am guessing you have heard about The Man Who Said No to Wal-Mart [fastcompany.com] But it is good to read the whole thing, it is not a one sided, "walmart pushes them to produce lower quality", the end. It is just as often a push to produce at a economical quality level. IE its usually better to buy a lawn mower that lasts half as long, but costs 1/3 as much. In that case it also pushed down the price of the quality products, by forcing them to be more efficient as well.

      • by plague3106 (71849)

        You go ahead and pay less for the cheap junk that normally wouldn't make it past QC, I don't mind.

    • by billcopc (196330)

      Amen, brother! Wal-Mart is a heavyweight player in this so-called recession.

      • Walmart has done more for the economy than any politician ever has, they are providing competition in many areas that had none before. Yes they are driving out local business but the local business that everyone was so fond of were ripping it's customers off. I do not shop there not because I dislike that they are trying to compete, but because of the people of Walmart.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by rho (6063)

          It's probably not fair to say they were ripping customers off. Wal*Mart's economies of scale allow it to do things a mom-and-pop simply can't do.

          However, when my tire went flat on a Fourth of July weekend, it wasn't the mom-and-pop tire stores that were open. It was Wal*Mart.

        • by Firehed (942385)

          Local businesses (generally) have knowledgeable and helpful employees. If all you're buying is napkins then that doesn't make much of a difference, but for products where you should be making some sort of vaguely informed purchase, having a helpful employee can result in you ending up much happier because you didn't buy the wrong thing for your needs.

          If you consider that ripping people off, fine. I'm willing to pay a reasonable premium for good customer service, even if typical Wal-Mart penny-pinchers aren'

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by mcgrew (92797) *

        So-called? As Jim Hightower points out,

        The latest job numbers mock the smiley-faced claims of economists and polticos that the Great Recession is over:

        -- 10.2 percent of America's workforce is unemployed -- nearly 16 million people.

        -- Another 15 million people are either so discouraged by their fruitless job search that they've quit looking, or they've had to settle for part-time jobs when they want and need full-time employment. Add the discouraged and underemployed to the number of the officially unemplo

    • by DavidTC (10147)

      Indeed. Same here.

      Walmart is my last resort shop. I don't like how they treat their employees. (I say that as an ex-employee.) I only go there if other places are closed, or simply do not have what I need.

      I buy books from Barnes and Nobles, not Amazon, because I like to support brick and mortar book stores. I buy both online and in the store.

      I did buy something from Amazon a year ago, the first time ever, I forget what it was...I think a video game. (B&N online doesn't actually sell video games, they

  • Stereotypes much? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Akido37 (1473009) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:37PM (#30216754)

    Wal-Mart ... dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America... while Amazon ... caters mostly to affluent urbanites

    Because we all know how there are no Wal-Marts along the East or West Coasts, and those backward "middle Americans" don't have the Internet.

    • by castorvx (1424163) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:40PM (#30216804)
      Excuse me, I believe those middle America shoppers are called Real Americans. People these days.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      I can't tell if you missed the meaning of Middle America meaning Middle Class, or if it was part of your joke.

      Either way, I'm sure there ARE more Wal-marts in the middle of the states, since the coasts are mostly made up of Starbucks.

    • There's a difference between stereotypes and demographics you know; it isn't as if Amazon goes around saying "Yes it's cheap, but will it get them off their tractors?". It is a fact that Walmart has focused their efforts on rural areas, only very recently moving into major cities agressively. It's also a fact that Amazon's business model works slightly better for urbanites who recieve shipments faster (in Milwaukee shipments would arrive in 2-3 days with free shipping, rural Iowa it's more like 8-10 days)

      • Re:Stereotypes much? (Score:5, Informative)

        by IANAAC (692242) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:23PM (#30217306)

        It is a fact that Walmart has focused their efforts on rural areas, only very recently moving into major cities agressively. It's also a fact that Amazon's business model works slightly better for urbanites who recieve shipments faster (in Milwaukee shipments would arrive in 2-3 days with free shipping, rural Iowa it's more like 8-10 days), are more likely to have high speed internet, and are less likely to be served by a walmart/target type discount store.

        The SF bay area and LA had both Walmart and Target long before rural Wisconsin did (even though Target is a MPLS-based company). Come to think of it, so did Chicago. Walmart has never "focused on rural areas", rather, they've set up shop where they believe they'll make the most money. Urban/rural has nothing to do with it.

        • The difference is that in rural America, wal-mart may be the only vendor for many items within a 40 minute drive.

          Growing up, I bought my jeans at wal-mart, because Old Navy etc were 45 minutes away. Same for appliances, toys, sports supplies. A town of 10,000 will usually have a wal-mart, but it doesn't have much else to go to any more. Going to the mall was a relatively special occasion, not your regular shopping run.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by f97tosc (578893)

      Wal-Mart ... dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America... while Amazon ... caters mostly to affluent urbanites

      Because we all know how there are no Wal-Marts along the East or West Coasts, and those backward "middle Americans" don't have the Internet.

      The words you yourself are quoting literally say "dominates by" and "mostly". Why is it that you can't make perfectly accurate demographic statements without somebody feeling the need to refute claims about "all" and "no" which have never been made? It is a good thing not to attribute a demographic average to every member of the group, but rejecting the average trend itself is just silly, and not insightful at all.

      A one minute search on google revealed this paper that shows negative income elasticity fo

      • by Nevyn (5505) *

        And for anyone else who is not an economist "negative income elasticity" means "prefer cheaper, lower quality, goods".

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by ChaosDiscord (4913) *

      Well, to be fair, the real reason I avoid Wal-Mart (yet strangely continue going to Target and a host of other stores) is that I dislike pushing shopping carts. It also can't possibly have anything to do with having a wider selection online, including higher quality and more durable products.

      Dear original post author: if I want clueless stereotypes I know where to find Thomas Friedman.

  • We all win (Score:5, Insightful)

    by esocid (946821) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:37PM (#30216758) Journal
    For now, until one of them cedes, or make a competitive deal, even those of us who avoid Wally World like the plague. Then we all lose, but for now I'm at least entertained seeing Walmart with an adversary.
  • No way Walmart (Score:5, Insightful)

    by losman (840619) * on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:38PM (#30216782)
    Fast shipping. Great customer service. Better prices. And most importantly there are better/quality reviews on Amazon. Sorry Walmart... and btw even locally I would go to Target instead of Walmart.
    • I wouldn't step foot in a Walmart where I live. Crowded... cluttered aisles... dirty. But a place I visit in WV where the Walmart has no competition... its clean, very organized and very Target-like. It seems when they get serious about their business, they do fine. I would be worried if I was Amazon.

      • That's mainly due to the manager, and the region. My town has 4 wal-mart super centers. The ones in the nice part of town are clean, and they don't bother you at the doors. In the worse part of town they are dirty, and they check everything in your cart on the way out. I was installing some register equipment there once, and was talking to the manager, and he said that he had managed two of the other wal-marts, and that at the worse off neighborhood they actually spent almost twice the amount on mainten

        • And that is precisely why feel-good projects that "clean up the bad neighborhood" never work in the long term. Sure, you can head to the poor parts of town, pick up the trash, paint a few houses, whatever, that's very nice and I'm sure that it give people a warm fuzzy feeling... But ultimately, unless the people who live there put in the (minimal) effort to keep up after themselves, it will just go back to the way it was.

          • There's some odd psychology at play when it comes to trash and littering. I used to live in Portland, OR and while I was there, I read that the city had removed trash cans from the city-owned parking garages. They found that actually reduced the amount of litter in and around the parking structures.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by LandDolphin (1202876)
              Probably because they did not empty them often enough. Once it over flows, a lot of people don't have a problem throwing trash on the ground near it.
    • Amazon Prime (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Brad Mace (624801) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:20PM (#30217274) Homepage
      don't forget Amazon Prime. $80/yr for free 2-day shipping? That's a guaranteed money-loser for them. And I'm shocked by what they include in that offer. They've sent me all sorts of heavy and bulky items including a 70-pound air compressor and a storage cabinet that was about 4'x4'x3', all free 2-day shipping. Beats driving to the store any day. It also gets you upgrades to overnight shipping for $3.99, so unless you absolutely must have it this instant, online shopping wins.
      • Re:Amazon Prime (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Achromatic1978 (916097) <robert AT chromablue DOT net> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:35PM (#30217470)

        It also gets you upgrades to overnight shipping for $3.99, so unless you absolutely must have it this instant, online shopping wins.

        And they are now trialling $6.99 same day shipping in select cities, order before 11am and have it by the end of the day.

        • Re:Amazon Prime (Score:4, Interesting)

          by bryansj (89051) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:59PM (#30217794)
          They offer the $6.99 on some items when ordering next day on a Friday for Saturday delivery. I received Saturday delivery last week using Prime at no charge, but I assume this might have to do with extended hours of FedEx leading into the holidays.
      • don't forget Amazon Prime. $80/yr for free 2-day shipping? That's a guaranteed money-loser for them.

        Most businesses do not have consciences, especially those with over a billion dollars in revenues, so stop trying to pretend that they do. There is no way that they put out a "guaranteed money-loser." Period. Either it makes them money or they stop doing it. My best guess - Amazon Prime encourages users to use Amazon more consistently which allows a greater amount of profit to be gleaned from them than if they had not signed up for Amazon Prime. My employer offers free 3-day shipping for $30 a year. Some on

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by keithpreston (865880)

        don't forget Amazon Prime. $80/yr for free 2-day shipping? That's a guaranteed money-loser for them..

        I would bet that Amazon Prime is one of their biggest profit centers. With proper supply chain management, an Amazon Warehouse is ALWAYS close enough to you for normal ground shipping to only take 2 days. So essentially they are shipping it the cheapest ways possible for probably 90% of their prime shipments, yet they get people to pay "extra" for it. They already have free shipping above $25, which means that they are padding their prices to absorb the shipping costs. The only value Amazon prime

    • You mean better fake quality reviews. Everyone knows that there are no real quality reviews on the net. Just as there are no real girls or facts on it. ^^

      • Obviously you need to take into account the fact that most reviewers will have just received the product, which usually leads to a very positive, even euphoric take ;-)... The customer reviews are, however, a goldmine when it comes to finding out hard facts about the products that aren't available in product descriptions or official reviews - usually at least half of the things I want to know aren't even mentioned in official reviews, but I find that a lot of customer reviews are written from perspectives n

    • Like other brick-and-mortar stores, Walmart has a distinct advantage over Amazon and other stores that have only an online presence.

      Namely, products at Walmart can be sold through 2 channels: online visitors and in-store visitors. If a product cannot be sold online, then the product can remain on the shelf for an in-store visitor to buy.

      If a product offered by Amazon cannot be sold online, the product sits in the warehouse. The product in the warehouse is a continuing drain on Amazon's finances since

    • If Wal-Mart threw its weight behind beating Amazon, Wal-Mart would tear Amazon's arms off like an angry wookie. As many of their competitors have learned, it's best just to let the wookie win.

  • by colmore (56499) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:42PM (#30216826) Journal

    Remember all those quirky startups? That was a dead end. The new economy is 3 or 4 giant retailers selling everything.

    Huzzah!

    • What do you think we should do about this?
    • A large percentage of my purchases at Amazon are from independent resellers. Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon are great portals for "start ups." The internet has changed the way business is done. If you can't adapt then you die. That's the way it has always worked.

      • Very true. I purchase from Amazon every so often; usually books. The majority of the time, the books are being sold from someone else than Amazon.
      • >>>A large percentage of my purchases at Amazon are from independent resellers.

        Which States like New York, Massachusetts, et cetera want to force to collect sales tax, and thereby create a heavy accounting and cost burden. Let's see. 10,000 sales tax jurisdictions/forms times 44 cents each == $4400 to comply.

    • by Shivetya (243324) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:52PM (#30216978) Homepage Journal

      let alone laws governing what can and cannot be shipped to where it is pretty easy to understand that one of the biggest hurdles of establishing a new business is government.

      I code for distribution systems myself and the complexity of where items can go, the taxes on each per locale, and even how they must be transported, are mind boggling. Too many times competition includes fighting local governments who seem to find ways to create fines based on that day's interpretation of a law

  • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:43PM (#30216852)
    At TFA points out, Amazon serves more affluent urban populations that prefer to make their purchases online and thus avoid unnecessary trips to pick up items which can just as well be delivered. Not to mention the fact that many of these wealthier urban dwellers live in higher tax states and in higher cost cities where using Amazon doesn't add sales tax (New York being an notable exception) and the nearest WalMart might be a bit of a drive (assuming that they even own a private vehicle). Amazon also has a sophisticated website and online order fulfillment system, including a strong franchise in intelligent and automated recommendations, which they have built up over many years of successful business and feedback; WalMart is definitely playing catchup here. On the other hand, WalMart practically wrote the book on retail supply chain management (the TFA points out that Amazon has poached talent from WalMart in the past to improve their own supply chain logistics) and has detailed regional knowledge of consumer trends and which items maximize profits and at what prices. Amazon has their affiliate program, but these affiliates are often unable to match the prices offered by WalMart when Amazon itself doesn't stock the items in question. IMHO, in the long run, both companies will continue to be successful and while there will be battles over turf (DVDs, Books, Electronics, etc) there are sufficient differences in consumer preferences to accommodate both business models going forward.
  • The problem with many corners of the American economy is the idea that the whole thing works like this. Assuming this isn't just a planted story as part of a marketing campaign by the underdog in sales (Amazon), this is an example of how the free market is supposed to work. Competition to attract customers. This is the example we're supposed to look at to see how our cell phone plans are supposed to evolve. Everything is just like retail sales, according to the "free market" deregulation zealots. The o
    • That's because the following things happen to upset the market:

      - Natural monopolies (water, sewer, natural gas, electricity)
      - Government-mandated monopolies (DeBeers diamonads, Comcast cable, Bell telephone or internet, OPEC cartel/price fixing)
      - Government interference to save bad businesses that should be left to die (AIG, GM, Boscovs)
      - Outright government banning of competition (you can't buy insurance outside your state, which is not quite but close to a government-granted monopoly)

      The first is obviousl

  • Good? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by TwoToeWilly (1243566) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:46PM (#30216892)

    No matter who wins, the money still goes to China.

  • by hoytak (1148181)

    And you can buy stuff on it? brb while I google that.

  • Wait, WTF? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Arancaytar (966377) <arancaytar.ilyaran@gmail.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:52PM (#30216982) Homepage

    They are just not going to cede their business to Amazon.' Wal-Mart, with $405 billion in sales last year, dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America in its 4,000 stores, while Amazon, with $20 billion in sales

    'We have to put our foot down and refuse to let them grow more powerful,' says Dias. 'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.'"

    Yes! Down with the Amazon monopoly! Give the underdog with twenty times the annual sales a chance! Preserve competition!

    • Give the underdog with twenty times the annual sales a chance! Preserve competition!

      The question is how much profit, though. Wal-Mart operates a huge number of brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon is completely online...

      Wal-Mart probably employs *way* more people, too, so you could even say it's better for the economy ;)

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Yvan256 (722131)

        If you need to take everything into account then Amazon helps the computer vendors, the ISPs and the shipping companies too.

  • Lovely... (Score:4, Funny)

    by hyades1 (1149581) <hyades1@hotmail.com> on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:55PM (#30217030)

    This is like two pox-ridden whores fighting over which one gets to service the local hockey team. Whoever comes out on top, the only winner is the guy selling condoms, and the only thing certain is that a lot of people are going to get screwed.

  • purveyors of crap (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kimvette (919543) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @02:57PM (#30217058) Homepage Journal

    Wal-Mart has been the purveyor of crap for many years now. They push companies close to bankruptcy by insisting that the suppliers' margins be pennies per unit - or they push companies to produce cheaper, crappy Wal-Mart versions of their product with a decent profit margin, but agreeing to do it Wal-Mart's way can ruin your company by tarnishing your reputation. When Joe Sixpack buys your Wal-Mart model TV, your Wal-Mart model computer, or your Wal-Mart lawn mower and the thing turns out to be a piece of crap. Your company's name will be tarnished, and you will get the blame, not Wal-Mart. You might make millions in the short term but over the long term, think about shutting down your company and starting a new one,

    Check out the Snapper story (the man who said no to walmart)

    http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html [fastcompany.com]

    I shop at Wal-Mart for some things. I don't buy most appliances there though. I buy underwear, DVDs, and personal care items. Electronics, appliances I want to last for more than six months, and other bigger-ticket items I will buy elsewhere.

    • by Applekid (993327) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:29PM (#30217378)

      Your company's name will be tarnished, and you will get the blame, not Wal-Mart.

      I'd say the blame belongs where the customer places it. Brand recognition and loyalty goes both ways, and if a company is going to slap a strong name on a piece of garbage just to get on a Walmart shelf then they deserve the erosion.

    • Sometimes you don't need the appliances to last as long. Take TVs for example. People often replace TVs to go bigger, or to get a newer model. If you are changing in your TV every 5 years, than a Wal*Mart TV will do. You don't need to pay for Sony quality (to last 10+ years), when you are looking to get a new set every 5.

      Another great example is a DVD player. $20 for a DVD player that you might have to replace after a few years might make more sense for someone than $100-200 for one that will last tw
  • I have Amazon Prime so I get free two day shipping on everything and $3.99 overnight shipping. You would be amazed at how heavy an item I can get shipped overnight for $3.99. 2-day and overnight shipping anywhere else seems like a complete ripoff.

    • by suresk (816773) *

      Yeah, Prime is pretty sweet. A few months back, I ordered a new telescope on Friday morning and it was there the next morning. The charge for overnight, Saturday delivery? $7. I'm pretty sure that paid for Prime all by itself.

  • that they continue to battle for the lowest price until both of them go broke?

    I especially hope to see Walmart suffer a long agonizing death. I live in suburban Detroit, and the amount of vacant retail space that was generated by the growth of Walmart and Meijer is staggering... and I know its much worse in rural towns.

    I used to be able to choose from several stores, each with a unique selection of reasonably priced goods, and usually exceptional customer service.

    Now I walk a quarter mile to get in the fro

    • To be in a rural community where its Walmart or nothing would be a form of torture.

      Isn't living in Detroit a form of torture?

  • Walmart vs. Amazon (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anita Coney (648748) on Tuesday November 24, 2009 @03:37PM (#30217494) Homepage

    Amazon does not really have to compete on price. While at worst people might be agnostic towards Amazon, they hate Walmart.

    Very few people are going to dump Amazon merely because the Evil Empire's a little cheaper. Buying is more than merely getting a product. The actual buying is but a small part of a larger service.

    It's similar to Newegg. Newegg does not always have the lowest prices. But I know they ship the same day so I'll get it quickly and they'll fix any problems if something goes wrong. So if it's tech related, I almost always buy from Newegg. For nearly everything else, I use Amazon.

  • Whether you like megacorps or not (I guess WalMart is considered the heavy here), why complain of competition? "Inventing in mkt.size" does not work -- the marginal customers you attract are the most fickle.

    I have long though Amazon was milking their market and have a dated UI. Not that WalMart doesn't shoot themselves in the foot. Reliably.

  • I believe if Wal~Mart and Amazon are going to battle it out, it should be with thermonuclear weapons. Who's with me on this?

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