Tag Archives: shopping

Walmart Launches Walmart+ Membership

Walmart has announced a new service called Walmart+, an annual membership service which will give shoppers free delivery of groceries and other products. Walmart+ will cost $98/year and offers free delivery of food and other items from nearby stores “as fast as same-day.” However, shipping is free only is orders are at least $35.

Walmart stores carry about 160,000 items which qualify for free shipping. And, when the online store is added, Walmart offers roughly 35 million products. Other Walmart+ perks are expected to expand to a gas discount at Walmart gas stations and the ability to skip checkout lines in stores by paying by mobile phones.

Will this be a significant rival to Amazon Prime? Amazon Prime has been around since 2005 and already has an estimated 150 million subscribers around the world. Prime is definitely an attraction for shoppers and Amazon offers not only free shipping, but free videos, original entertainment content, music, books, and more. It has certainly been a reason why Amazon has grown to a dominant ecommerce market position. Amazon carries more than 12 million products, and when that is expanded to its Amazon Marketplace sellers, reaches 350 million products.

Where will you shop?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who has Amazon Prime? Who shops online from Walmart?
  2. Show video: Video: https://youtu.be/U1p1RDxhvps
  3. Divide students into teams. Have each team compare the attributes of Amazon Prime and Walmart+. (Can include: price, services, products, shipping, and more.)
  4. Next, have each team build a chart comparing the strengths and weaknesses of each company.
  5. Optional: Include Target in the analysis, even though it does not (yet) have a membership service.
  6. Should Target also offer a membership service similar to Prime and Walmart+?

Source:  Associated Press; New York Times; Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Smart Shopping Cart – Amazon’s Dash Cart

Raise your hand if you get irritated by long lines at the supermarket checkout. Go ahead – don’t be shy! It would be very rare indeed if all shopping experiences were trouble-free. A major annoyance of shoppers is the checkout process. It should be simple and fast.

In a move intended to shake up the grocery industry, Amazon’s new Dash Carts calculate and pay the bill – meaning no need to stand in any kind of check-out line. The Dash Carts have embedded cameras, sensors, a built-in scale, and a smart display that will automatically tally the items. The smart carts will be available later this year at a planned Amazon grocery store in Los Angeles. The technology is similar to that used at Amazon Go stores with their “Just Walk Out” cashier-less technology.

The carts are easy to use and require little change in shopper behavior. Shoppers use their Amazon account information and smart phone. After entering the store, the shopper scans a QR code in the Amazon app that signs them into the cart and even loads up stored shopping lists from Alexa. The technology speeds up shopping, eliminates checkout and aims to improve the overall shopping experience.

Shop. Exit. Simple.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. This product vividly reminds us of the famous IDEO shopping cart redesign. That video can be found at: https://youtu.be/izjhx17NuSE
  2. The original design was from 1999. Why do students think it never caught on?
  3. Show video of Amazon’s new Dash Cart: https://youtu.be/rQO9u6-KOJk
  4. What are the features similar to the IDEO redesign? Why is this design possible for today’s consumers?
  5. Discuss the purchasing process and the problems with having consumers use new innovation.
  6. Poll students: Is the Dash cart continuous innovation, dynamic innovation, or discontinuous innovation. Why?

Source:  CNET: CNN; Forbes; IMPO; TechCrunch; other news sources

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The Changing Consumer Spending

Consumer spending drives the U.S. economy, accounting for roughly 68% of the GDP. The spending includes everything we buy: food, services, entertainment, groceries, haircuts, and more. From the beginning of the year (when the economy was up), the nation has seen rising unemployment, and that means less wages to spend.

The impacts of the coronavirus pandemic are changing consumer behavior – what we spend our income on as well as how much we spend. As consumers have weathered the coronavirus pandemic and states have enforced lock-downs for shopping and entertainment, our spending and saving habits have shifted.

Interestingly, personal income rose 10.5% in April, the result of a rise in government rescue programs and household stimulus payments. But consumers also cut their spending on restaurants and hotels, as well as cut health care expenditures. In regards to large purchases, spending on autos declined 30% and furniture and appliance spending cut by 20%.

The first few weeks of the pandemic brought consumers out in mass to stock up on pantry items including toilet paper, soup, macaroni, beans, and other comfort foods. The next few weeks saw consumers buying more basic ingredients as they cooked more meals at home.

What’s next for consumer shopping changes?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: In the past month, roughly how much money have they spent? What items have they purchased?
  2. Is this spending different than what they experienced before the coronavirus pandemic? How is it different?
  3. Show video from WSJ about spending: https://www.wsj.com/video/consumer-spending-slid-in-april-here-why-that-matters/14661D9B-8251-43EB-B082-EDDE09187E2F.html
  4. Discuss trends in items being purchased.
  5. How should companies be using these changing habits to their advantage? Should marketing campaigns change?

Source: Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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