“Walmart Is Struggling to Build An Online Empire”
In her Buzzfeed article, Leticia Miranda reports on Walmart’s lagging online sales. With every passing day, we all do more and more online. Stores like Walmart and Target, with locations all throughout the United States, used to serve as the “super” markets of the world—people turned to them because they had anything and everything—and the prices were always competitive as well. Now, we do more and more of our shopping online, these chain superstores have had to keep up with the e-commerce landscape as well—without doing so, they’d be out of business. Miranda’s article places Walmart within the context of, Amazon, its biggest competitor—and she does so by stating the facts. Walmart’s online sales grew by 23% during the holiday quarter. But, during that same time, Amazon increased its own by 38%. However, for the whole 2017 year, Walmart’s e-commerce sales increased by 44% (higher than even its own estimates) while Amazon’s increased by 31%. Miranda highlights an important point, however: Amazon already has a firm hold on the market.
For me, the article is interesting because it sheds some light on an evolving aspect of our culture. In a world where we now look online for everything, whether it be food, clothes, furniture, or technology—and can find the best prices for them all from the comfort of our homes—these larger corporations need to devise ways to be different and to stand out. Reading Miranda’s article actually distinctly reminded me of our discussion of the shift from a more vertical hierarchy of news to a horizontal one as part of our discussion audiences. At one point, there were limited places people could go to find everything they needed—a few locales controlled this superstore market, and consumers had to go to them for what they needed. Now, however, as the market becomes more horizontal, consumers have to pick and choose where to bring their business. Consumers, rather than the corporate world, in a sense now have more of the power—a redistribution of sorts. It is now the task of retailers to prove their worthiness to customers—to make themselves the best, most appealing, and most competitive in the virtually limitless world of e-commerce. As time goes on, it will be interesting to observe who survives and who doesn’t—and the methods they will use to entice the consumers they need to stay alive.