Posted by & filed under Business Intelligence, business models, Ecommerce, Sentiment Analysis, Twitter.

Description: Wal-Mart is hoping the two start-up mavens can reinvent its own e-commerce platform, which has lagged competitors.

Source: Gobe & Mail.com

Date: Oct. 3, 2011

Tucked in the heart of Silicon Valley, Wal-Mart (WMT-N52.120.210.41%) has assembled a team of 70 developers, computer engineers and researchers – dubbed @WalmartLabs – in an aggressive attempt to position itself at the forefront of social and mobile commerce. Read REST OF STORY

Questions for discussion:

  1. Do you feel that this e-commerce initive will succeed for wal-mart?  Why or Why Not?

2.  How will utilizing the data from social media help Wal-Mart discover the next “it” items.  Give an example.

22 Responses to “Retail giant’s @Walmartlabs plans to reinvent online shopping with ‘social commerce’”

  1. Andrew Douglas

    I think, in the long run, Wal-Mart will succeed in their e-commerce venture as they are an exceedingly large organization that can (and often will) throw money at a new venture such as this until they get it right. It will take some time to establish an acceptable online store / presence, as they are virtually unknown in this type of retail and have little experience with it, but when they finally hit their stride in this area, I can see them as being quite successful. I do not however see them taking down companies like Amazon or eBay, but I do envision them as being formidable competitors.

    Wal-Mart will be able to see what new products people seem to be talking about online, or wishing they could get be it through Facebook statuses, tweets, or whatever social media they choose to analyze. They could also expand this analysis to other web services such as Google or Yahoo! By analysing what people are searching for (including the items people search for on their own online store). After analyzing this information, Wal-Mart will be able to see a trend in what products will be the next “it” item, and what products are on their way out.

  2. Sydney D

    I’m not too sure that the e-commerce system will work for Wal-Mart. I don’t think people are going to spend their time tweeting about the product (myself for sure) they just tried out, or take the time to ask someone where something is in the store…Isn’t this what Wal-Mart staff is for? When I can’t find something, I want someone to show me where it is.

    However, tracking social media buzz could be a huge advantage. Having product out when they are demanded will increase Wal-Mart’s popularity therefore increasing revenue. Nonetheless, having the right product out at the right time is crucial to any retail business. Social media can help in this area assuming of course there are consumers reviewing products, talking about their interests, and the latest fad. The internet has made the world much much smaller and brought everyone closer together, and I don’t think this will ever slow down.

    One statement made in this that caught my eye was “social networks…tends to be persistent relationship like friends”…what happened to taking a friend shopping with you and discussing the products your selves, or actually talking to people to get advice on products they may have tried. Although social networks have made great strides, I believe they have made us lazy.

  3. adam smith

    Walmart is getting a late start in the e-commerce aspect of the market place, they are well behind Amazon and others but I think it’s a necessary start for them to take as the world is moving into the digital age. We see this a lot in things like movies, I feel the future of dvds or bluerays will be killed by the ability to access them online through companies such as Netflix, so the accusation of vudu is a step in the right direction. I don’t know if walmart will be able to reach the level of Amazon; but with all their resources and their name and their size they should at least be able to make a solid impact on the e-commerce industry and experience success in doing so.
    With e-commerce the tool of monitoring and providing suggestions and recommendations through things like social media and cookies can help companies stay on top of things that are demanded and requested by consumers and lead the ability provide for them. And with all the resources and pull that walmart has it should be able to utilize this industry it helping the grow and be very competitive in this business

  4. Julian Fisher

    I dont think utilizing social media will help WalMart discover the next “it” items. people go there to pick up cheap, inexpensive, small goods that they need around the house. I dont see the point in gathering people’s opinions on things like pot scrubbers or thumbtacks.

  5. Lindsay G

    2. How will utilizing the data from social media help Wal-Mart discover the next “it” items. Give an example.

    I am uncertain if utilizing social media will help Wal-Mart discover “it” items. I believe that in order to discover new popular items, sales from other companies would need to be tracked. In general, people tend to visit Wal-Mart to pick up quick necessities or other inexpensive products. Saying that there are many loyal Wal-Mart shoppers would be an understatement. There are many people who shop at Wal-Mart on an extensive basis and others that stop in with a specific product in mind. Although I don’t think that social media would provide insight into popular items, it may be able to increase consumer knowledge of popular items that Wal-Mart has in stock. Because of the size of most locations, it is likely that most consumers aren’t even aware that certain items are in-stock. Online advertising via social media may increase the consumer base. While I don’t believe that social media can be used effectively in the way that Wal-Mart intends, I do believe that this medium still have a lot of potential to help the company be successful in the long run.

  6. Alisha Coate

    Walmart is a megastore, this company has shown up all over. In most cases, there is more than one Wal-Mart in a city. The parking lot is always busy and there are always lineups at the checkout. Using this observation, I would come to understand that Wal-Mart will be able to succeed in this E-comerce endeavour. They have the funding necessary to utilize all the tools available to make their E-commerce revamp a success. It is just whether or not customers will decide to make the up and coming change to doing their shopping online. People as a whole prefer convenience because of the busy lives of many individuals. On the other hand, some individuals take getting the groceries and other items on their “list” as a night out of the house to endear peace and quiet. It depends on how many people are in each spectrum. Amazon has done really well in this industry. I believe that with the right tools, Wal-Mart will be a worthy competitor.
    I really fancy the idea of using social networks to help shoppers especially in the gift giving aspect. Human beings by nature are split up into two categories: the leaders and the followers. Majority of people are followers, they like to be told what is good for them. By using other individuals opinions they make a decision more at ease. For example, if a new brand of cookies comes out and look enticing but you have not heard anything about them, you are likely to continue walking. If you are informed that people have tried them and enjoy them, you may try them as well.

  7. EDRIAN SUAREZ

    I believe combining social media and shopping at a store like Walmart will not be successful. First off I think that it is going to be a huge investment to provide all the Walmart stores within North America with all this new technology and to train all the employees how to use it. Walmart employee’s age range is extremely broad and some employees will be able to utilize the new technology without a problem; however, others will never be able to get a hang of the social media system, specially the senior employees who have not grown up with this technology and it is new to them.

    Second of all, you cannot expect customers to pay attention to what others are doing or rely on them to give a review of every item they buy, rate the product and provide customer assistance while trying to complete their shopping. People do not go to supermarkets to socialize, interact with others, or use a social media device. They go to get what they need and go back home; therefore, as great as this new idea sound, I believe it will not go over well specially at Walmart or other big chain superstores.

  8. Jian Li

    I think this e-commerce initive will succeed for Wal-Mart. Since the consumer behaviours has changed, more and more people are shopping online, as the retail giant, Wal-Mart won’t miss the chance to enlarge their market. To consolidate their position in the retail business, they should always keep track of the trends. Wal-Mart has the most sophisticated retailing systems, some components are also crucial to the e-commerce, for example, distribution system, relationship with enormous number of manufactures (low price). Besides, Wal-Mart has large amount of capital to support the establishment and running of the e-commerce. By using the existing advantages, Wal-Mart can build its e-commerce system more effectively and efficiently.
    However, there is still challenge for starting an e-commerce. There are many existing competitors, like eBay, amazon, etc. Wal-Mart needs to find out their uniqueness to stand out. If Wal-Mart wants to have world wild e-commerce, it becomes more challenging. For example, in China, the most popular e-commerce website is Taobao, which contains thousands of different categories of goods which tailors Chinese customers demand. Also, the good reputation and the reliable system and platform build customer loyalty. Wal-Mart must identifies different customers’ needs in order to successfully build its e-commerce business.

  9. Leanne Dalton

    It is very surprising that Wal-Mart has not already implemented a website such as the one described. Although it is hard for a consumer to determine if something like this will actually catch on, I do not believe that this will. I think that though many people shop in-store at Wal-Mart, it will not be as successful as they believe it will be. I am a little skeptical of whether people will actually want to tweet or post on Facebook what they are buying from Wal-Mart, especially if it is for a gift. It is a very innovative way to promote their company and potentially gather more business, but I am a little unsure as to whether it would work.
    By incorporating social media to their website, Wal-Mart may have the ability to track the next “it” item, which could help them improve and maintain their advertising, inventory levels, and store displays. If a lot of people seem to be purchasing the same item as a holiday gift, Wal-Mart could use this information and their new technology to encourage others to also purchase it. I think that it would dramatically increase their advertising if it was successful. By adding new things like this, Wal-Mart can give itself a competitive advantage over rivalry companies.

  10. Kristen Schalin

    I think it would be a good idea for Wal-Mart to get into the e-commerce world. They are a very large retail store and I think would benefit from having certain products online for people to access. I believe it will take some time to establish a profitable, beneficial site because there are so many large already established e-commerce sites such as Amazon, e-bay, and many retail stores have online stores as well. I don’t believe that they will be able to move beyond the larger companies such as Amazon, e-bay but because they are a well recognized and large offline company, and have a well-known brand people will be more enticed to shop from their online store.
    I do not believe people will take the effort to go online and tweet about products they have recently bought from Wal-mart unless the online store takes off and is productive. If people are already online shopping and there is a comment box or rating box nearby people would be more likely to rate or comment on that product so other people will benefit; but if they are going just on the site to comment on products from the offline store, taking that extra step might be too much effort for people. People like convenience so they will only do things if its beneficial or convenient for them.

  11. Taylor Elderton

    I do believe this will succeed for Wal-Mart. All reasons aside, the main one is that most initiatives that Wal-Mart starts end up being successful. They are a very intelligent company and know how to stay updated and relevant in the marketplace. Outside that, social networking is one of the most popular online phenomenons of today. The concepts behind social networking is very transferrable to shopping. With social networking, your information is publicly posted, so it is not much of a stretch to bring that to Wal-Mart.

    Social media is the best way to find out what is most popular amongst groups of people. Their opinions are public along with their demographics. It would take little to no effort to figure out what is most popular when it comes to shopping. Twitter is a good example of this. You can see the top trends, and find what is most popular in the minds of youth.

  12. Iryna Guzhva

    Wal-Mart is already popular and has its market share. E-commerce is a new service from Wal-Mart. It will help Wal-Mart to win new/more customers from its competitors (Amazon)
    Though, not everybody shop online. Some people prefer to shop in store – to try the product they will pay for. I do not buy on-line, and do not need to tweet before buying anything for my home or myself.
    At the same time I believe that social media, as it becomes more and more popular, will help Wal-Mart to advertise their products, truck the product demand. Wal-Mart may use customer survey to determine what product is required at specific time/season.

  13. Chris G

    I think there are too many variables that come into place to give a definitive answer as to whether or not Wal-Mart will succeed in their e-commerce initiative. I agree with others that people are not going to go into a Wal-Mart and start tweeting about what they are looking at and what their opinions are about a certain product. As for using social media for inventory planning and allocation, it is fine and dandy knowing that people are talking about college football starting and therefore knowing that now might be a good time to start brining in inventory related to it, but this system has a flaw. You have to get the people to go to your website or store in the first place for this to be successful. If people are not going there, then all the inventory forecasting is pointless. I think for Wal-Mart to be successful at this, they are going to have to start re-branding themselves and perhaps even have their e-commerce site separate from the Wal-Mart brand because people do not, or at least I do not, associate Wal-Mart.com as somewhere where I would go and shop. Maybe if the online prices were cheaper than in store or something like that then I would consider shopping online. Overall, I think that whether they succeed or not comes down to the amount of money they are willing to invest because they might not get it perfect the first time, but perhaps with trial and error they will succeed in the end.

  14. Kashika Bhatia

    I believe that in today’s day and age where almost everything can be accessed online and where people, the younger and older generations now want to use this technology, Wal-Mart will find some form of success as this is a company which does not like to be behind in the race. Wal-Mart has always tried to lure its customers with lower prices, more convenient locations, and now though e-commerce. I think it’s a great way for it to know what its customers want and when they want it. It is a great idea but only if the public agrees to use it. I for one do not see myself ever using their Shopycat to find something or write a review about a product. For me, it’s a go in, get your groceries, and get out kind of ordeal. But I guess if their marketing division targets this technology to the right kind of crowd then it has a possibility of being a success. However, I do know for a fact that it will gain some market share especially from small retailers and local businesses because now, Wal-Mart is adding another aspect (e-commerce) to its list of attractions. Overall Wal-Mart is on the right foot as now almost all business who desire to be successful need to advance in their technologies.

  15. Chris Inglis

    I believe that utilizing data from the social media will help discover the next it items as well as be able to model their store and store policies from feedback through this social network. Through reading this tweets and recording them, Wal-Mark could hire a group of analysts to go through these comments suggestions to help stores run more efficiently in all aspects. They could know which items are better to be placed side by side; the items customers come to their store for more so than others. With the idea of the next “it” item being discovered through this technique I feel it is a simple and effective way of doing so, again through the exposure of what people are thinking. Each person’s innovative thoughts on different products sold in the store could be recorded and taken into account when creating a new product. Another aspect of this that is brilliant is that there are always people who consider the effort to talk to store managers or employees about suggestions or ideas they have for the products/stores to be too great. So through this they can anonymously post and put forth their ideas. This may be the guidelines for many industries to follow which I think will be both beneficial to the customers as well as the businesses.

  16. Daniel Bird

    I believe that Wal-Mart is taking a step in the right direction. It is important for companies to recognize the direction that our world is taking. More and more shopping is now taking place online. The companies that recognize this fact and adapt to the way our lives are evolving are the companies that are going to excel. Wal-Mart is already a huge company with high profits and absolutely no signs of slowing down. In order for Wal-Mart to maintain this success, they are going to need continually look for new way of improving. In my opinion, their efforts to become a successful competitor in the e-commerce market are a good way of achieving this. Wal-Mart has the ability to put a lot of money into this initiative and I think they have the potential to become a very successful contender in the online world. I think Wal-Mart will be one of many large companies to make their presence know online. The fact that Wal-Mart recognizes this shift will ensure them a place in the market. Even if Wal-Mart has troubles at first, I believe they will learn from their mistakes and succeed in the end. The reason for this is that Wal-Mart has a large amount of money to invest in this project.

  17. Blair Watkins

    I believe that Walmart has the ability to become a heavy contender in the e-commerce industry. It’s crucial for them to adapt to a changing world. People are highly influenced by the internet in everything they do, shopping is a huge part of that. I can’t get my wife to quit shopping online. Once they make their mark on the e-commerce market they will have an enormous advantage. Walmart has shown the world that it’s an enormous machine that is only continuing to move faster and faster. By positioning themselves in a point where people not only want to go into there stores but also look at their website, and their app, they are broadening an already extremely large customer base. I also agree with Daniel. If for one reason or another at first they don’t succeed in their new online venture, they will continue to push for a larger piece of the e-commerce pie by learning from their mistakes and going at it again. They have an extremely good and proven team helping to quarter back their investment with the e-commerce market.

  18. Stacey Kowalchuk

    I believe this e-commerce invite will succeed for Wal-mart because the generation shift to those who thrive on technology will benefit them greatly. People are using technology all day long and like the easy access to it everywhere they go. Personally I have a hard time locating things in Wal-mart since there are so many sections and options. If I went on Twitter and commentened and got a response within a reasonable time, I would be way more efficient with my time rather than wandering around. This could also be a problem for them, since lots of shoppers pick up extra products as they wander looking for the things they came for in the first place. I also believe that having a better idea for your friends and family for gifts at Christmas time is an amazing idea. I’m always concerned about what to get them, and even the slightest suggestions might bring some new ideas to mind. I think utilizing the data from social media would help Wal-mart discover the next bet item because they could track what product is on everyone’s mouths. The next best thing always comes out of the blue, and you only hear about it when everyone’s talking about it. If Wal-mart could tap into that all inclusive conversation about products, they could be way ahead of the game in advertising and marketing a product that’s going to be very popular.

  19. Corina Nelson

    I think that e-commerce will be an amazing advantage for Walmart. People being able to tweet about prodcuts, and discuss them is a huge plus. I think many people these days google reviews of items (usually more expensive items) before they buy them. This will make it even more convinent for cosumers. It is a way for products to almost sell themselves. People are relying more and more on the online world every day, so by Walmart getting involved in the online world they are keeping up with what people want. Walmart has to keep up-to-date with their e-commerce and be proactive instead of reactive in order for it to be successful. Social media is the way of the world, and it is about time Walmart got involved.

  20. Taylor Chobotiuk

    I believe that for a store to maintain a competitive advantage in the future they will have to create a strong online presence. Online shopping is a growing market and will only gain momentum within the coming years. To emphasize this part of the business is an important move as online shopping is fast, convenient and available 24/7.
    WalmartLabs will use social media as a way to map trends and consumers wants and needs. It’s imperative to collect information on the consumer and what better place to do that than online? Social media is a huge place to gather large amounts of information cheaply and I believe Walmart will benefit hugely if they ride that wave.

  21. Breanne Marton

    I think this will definitely succeed for Wal-Mart. I think that the consumers at Wal-Mart are looking for a fast easy way of shopping and by integrating Information technology into this will further assist their shopping experience. The idea of Wal-Mart is fast, easy and cheap combined with internet technology I think this will help Wal-Mart further capitalize on their business. Often times in Wal-Mart you cannot find a sales associate to help you out with a product and unless you’ve already researched out opinions on products you won’t be able to find out how it operates until you either buy it or go home and research it and then come back and buy it which in the case of Wal-Mart completely removes that ease of buying. By having an integrated system where you can get an associate’s help immediately or other customer feedback on the spot I believe Wal-Mart will see a large increase in their profits. However, it may also see a decrease in sales of those products customers think are not as good. In a store like Wal-Mart you run that chance of individual continuing to buy a product because they don’t know the satisfaction rating on it. By allowing instant communication between consumers you may see a decrease in sales of one product which will be cancelled out however by the sale of a different product most likely recommended by fellow shoppers.

  22. Susana

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