Why would Walmart compete against Amazon? They’re both large companies that make a good profit. Walmart has dominated the big-box store competition. Amazon has dominated just about everything else.
But Amazon bought Whole Foods.
For a technology company that can deliver things so quickly and efficiently to buy a grocery store means Walmart’s going to have serious competition soon.
Reminds me of another epic rivalry.
Hi, I’m a Mac
Not too long ago, Apple ran this advertising campaign to highlight the differences between the two brands. Microsoft, who makes PCs, was played by the unassuming John Hodgman.
Hodgman was great as the embodiment of the PC computer who was terminally befuddled with problems. Some issues were legit, like Microsoft’s horrible Vista operating system. Most of the time it was about the identity of the brands.
Justin Long, the embodiment of the Mac, was the young and hip guy who casually took care of every problem and had no issues whatsoever with his operating systems.
As you can see from the clip above, they were hilarious. Superb comedy writing.
But they distracted from the real issue- buying a computer is more a personal choice than a rational one.
Mac or PC?
Microsoft makes great computers.
Apple makes great computers.
Which one is best comes down to a matter of personal choice.
Microsoft, who makes the PCs, are reliable computers. They may not be sleek or classy looking, but they do the job that’s required of them.
Apples are elegantly designed.
What makes Apples different from PCs, besides aesthetics, is that Apple has branded itself as the “different” computer company.
Those who want to see themselves as different, innovative, or an outsider, are usually going to buy a Mac. This stems from Steve Jobs prompting customers to “think different” when it came to buying a computer.
Macs were made to be simple to set up, easy to use, and intuitive.
PCs, however, were clunky and took a lot of work just to get turned on.
In the intervening years, PCs have come a long way in terms of their functionality and ease of use. It also helps that Microsoft Word works best on a PC, and Word is the industry standard for the publishing industry.
This article, in fact, was written on a PC…then copy and pasted onto our On The Download blog.
While there is a version of Word available for Macs, it’s not as sleek or easy to use. Somewhat ironic really.
So when it comes to a Mac or a PC, I go for the PC.
This doesn’t mean I don’t like Macs. I get more benefits out of a PC than I do Macs.
In the contest between Amazon and Walmart, it’s shaping up to look like the Mac v. PC commercials.
In the end, it’s a good thing for the consumer- you.
Hi, I’m Amazon
Amazon started out as just an online reseller of books.
It has since grown to become a behemoth in the online retail space.
Amazon has hundreds of warehouses and sorting centers across the world. It took years to build this up and cost a lot to pull off. But all that hard work has proven extremely advantageous as Amazon can ship things relatively easily across the world, sometimes getting something into your hands within a day.
You do have to pay extra for the service, but Amazon is the only one doing it right now.
With their huge warehouses of stuff, and third-party vendors able to sell their wares on the site as well, Amazon has a definitive edge when it comes to operating an online retail space.
It’s not all sunshine and rainbows though.
Their last Prime Day had a rocky start, and then there were the issues with Whole Foods.
When Amazon bought Whole Foods, it was expected they could start delivering grocery orders within hours.
That has not quite worked out.
Though Amazon has tried starting their own delivery service with sub-contractors, and even going as far as partnering with Uber and Lyft, the service hasn’t quite taken off.
This may be because grocery shopping is still a personal activity. I speak from experience as I would rather pick my groceries myself than have someone do it for me. It would save me on time but at the expense of getting the wrong cereal. And that’s a blow that’s hard to come back from.
Amazon is still working to iron out the kinks, but the food delivery issue is still unresolved as of this writing.
Hi, I’m Walmart
Walmart has the big-box chain thing down, pat!
The only issue with this is the world is becoming increasingly digital. Walmart’s method of delivering goods from warehouse to store, while efficient, is also costly. For this reason, Walmart may not have as big a profit margin as Amazon does.
What they do have, however, is brand recognition.
Drive through rural America and you’ll see a Walmart in any decent-sized town. It won’t be huge or flashy, but it will be busy.
Walmart’s brand of “saving you more” has stuck and people from far and wide will drive great distances to get a better deal on their weekly groceries.
Yet, the world is becoming more and more digital. As cities grow and rural communities shrink, Walmart’s advantage will shrink with it.
Walmart’s New Advantage
Unlike other companies who said “we’ve done things this way and it’s worked out for us so we’ll keep doing it this way,” Walmart is taking a different path.
Walmart is currently ramping up Vudu, the movie streaming service it owns, and will turn it into their personal entertainment streaming service completed with original content.
Walmart is also working on solving the grocery delivery and infrastructure problem.
To do this, they’ve created two tech incubators, one in San Bruno, California, and one in Austin, Texas.
A tech incubator is a shelter for startups. Incubators are geared for looking for a specific type of technology or process and then working on how to apply it to the parent organization. In this case, that’s Walmart. And Walmart is looking for the right startups, or even entrepreneurs, who might have solutions to their problems. Once those are identified, they’ll provide a workspace for them and money to work on their idea, process, or product.
Given Walmart has these two tech incubators in very tech-heavy markets is a sign they’re aggressively seeking solutions.
While Amazon has the brand image of creating new technology in-house, Walmart is working to bring in thinkers to solve its problems. That may not be part of Walmart’s overall brand, but it’s a wise move considering how business practices are changing.
On a minor note, Walmart could have saved itself some money and set up shop in San Antonio, TX, just an hour down the road from Austin. It would have still had access to all the tech genius of Austin but at far cheaper overhead.
Who Will Win?
In the coming contest for online retail dominance, Amazon appears to be frontrunner here.
They’ve been building their digital platform, they’ve already run into problems with delivering groceries so they’re farther ahead on solving them.
Walmart, however, isn’t sitting back and doing nothing.
They’ve invested in finding people who will come up with answers and then how to incorporate those answers. They may be proverbially late to the game, but they’re not showing up short-handed either.
The key to whole competition will be who will devise a better customer experience. Price will factor in too. Customers will overlook that if they like the customer interface enough.
A system may be more intuitive than the other or have more features, but if a customer does not like it, that will hurt the overall performance of each company.
In the end, it’s all about how well you take care of your customer.
Before that happens, however, you’ll need to have a decent internet connection. Check out the best internet bundles and save yourself a little bit of money too.
When Amazon and Walmart finally figure out how to get groceries to your front door, you don’t want your internet making that difficult.