Truly original ideas rarely remain that way. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)’s insistence on killing Main Street in small towns and with it the death of “Mom and Pop” stores, was an original idea when they invested so heavily in their infrastructure that small business couldn’t compete. Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ:AMZN), of course, took this torch and went running with it quite admirably when they shifted from simply selling books to selling, well, everything. It’s difficult to blame just one of these for the death of small brick and mortar stores, it’s just easier to blame a few highly secretive, back country bumpkins named Walton than to blame a company whose stock gains have benefited millions of shareholders.
Neil Ashe, chief executive of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT)’s e-commerce unit, said on yesterday that the company plans to test the use of in-store lockers for holding goods that are ordered online beginning this summer. Wait, that sounds familiar. Might it be the fact that Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG) acquired shopping locker service BufferBox in late November. BufferBox, a start-up from Waterloo, Ontario. Buffer Box allows customers to shop online and pick up their purchases in centrally located lockers. Shoppers are then sent an email when their package arrives along with a one-time code. Shoppers need only go to the locker specified, enter their code, and retrieve their merchandise. The locker then becomes available for another customer’s purchase.
It doesn’t end here. Google Inc (NASDAQ:GOOG), clearly enamored with Amazon Prime, plans to launch Google Shopping Express that is purported to undercut Amazon Prime by $10 to $15 annually. No launch date has been announced. Additionally, this service will provide same-day shipping of items from Target, Safeway, Walgreen’s and almost incestuously….Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT).
With about 4,000 stores in the U.S. alone, it shouldn’t come as a terrific shock that Walmart intends to use them to ramp up online sales. What is a touch shocking is that I still have to go to Walmart. While I see the advantages of using a smartphone or tablet and avoiding lines and their army of greeters, I still don’t want to see the greeters. That legion of poorly paid and under-insured who are often forced to seek employment with Walmart after shuttering their own hopes, dreams and businesses when they could no longer compete. “If You Can’t Beat Them, Become Their Slave,” seems the new maxim.
It also doesn’t do much in helping me get past the fact that by going to Walmart to pick up my order I’m still susceptible to the hundreds of violent assaults and murders that take place each year in Walmart’s parking lots.
If they can work that one out, this might be a huge success. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) presently sells over 2 million items online, an increase of 35 to 40 percent in 2012. This number is expected to double this year.