Walmart and Kmart are among the two most common budget shops that are specifically making a relative condition on how the market decides to buy. These two stores however have not become one of the best choices for me for the past long years of being involved in buying retail products. I often choose smaller shops; I simply find them more convenient for me as a buyer. However, for this project, I specifically choose these two well-known shops to actually know how different the buying experience is between them and the local smaller shops that I usually buy from.
I specifically chose to buy food items on both stores. Knowing that both Walmart and Kmart are general retailers I envision that they have all the best possible choices I could pick from especially when it comes to good food brands. Another reason for choosing this particular product of interest for buying is because this is also the most common item I buy from the smaller shops that I get from in the market. I perceive that through purchasing the same item that I use to buy on smaller food shops in this experiment, I would be able to make a distinctive comparison between the stores involved. This would be helpful in identifying the course of difference that the said shops have from each other and from the manner of service and buying experience that I have long been used to.
Observations and Descriptions of Stores
The Walmart shop that I went to is currently preparing for its Christmas season decorations. It is effectively located at the corner of a street in the central business area. This location is perhaps one of the reasons why it is able to get as many buyers every day. Its store operation starts at 8 o’clock in the morning to 11 o’clock in the late evening. The ambiance of the shop is rather typical for big shopping stations, white and clean for the floor tiles, clean and blue walls for better lighting and a much lighter environment. The stocks are carefully arranged per lane. Each lane is identified through a hanging card label that directs the buyers where they can find the items that they are aiming to buy.
Each lane has an attending staff who the customers could ask for any information needed regarding the products within such lane. The end of each two lanes is aligned with a cashier counter where the customers could immediately pay at once shopping has been completed. Managers are on standby especially on the cashier’ lane and the information table so as to make sure that the operation of the store goes smoothly and if any particular situations arise in the counters or in the product lanes, they would be able to immediately address it. I specifically shopped during the peak hours, which stretches from between 10 o’clock am to 1’oclock in the afternoon. I specifically wanted to see how the store staffs respond to the challenge in such a time crunch. So far, their response could be evaluated as effective especially in attending to customer complaints and particular emergencies especially in the food lane.
The Kmart shop I went to was at least 55 meters away from Walmart. It is located at the east end of the road in the same lane where Walmart is situated. This location has been a particular puzzling matter to me. I always viewed Walmart to be the champion of retail stores and Kmart to be among the challengers. Situating a store near the ‘giant’ could both either be a risk or a helpful course of getting attention from the market that the same store serves. Coming in at 5’oclock in the afternoon, I also witnessed the peak hours of the store’s operation. Serving several different customers from all walks of life, likely coming out from their own works during the end of the day, some of these customers are rather irritable. This required more patience on the part of the staff and so far, they were able to live up to the challenge successfully. When the population of customers in the store finally slowed down, I was able to see through the interiors of the shop and found it a bit cozier than that of Walmart. This could have been attributed by the darker walls and floorings which made it seem a little bit smaller than that of the other shop visited. The arrangement of the products is rather strategically placed in specific areas that are most visually available for the customers to see. Several staffs are stationed in each product stall; however, the personnel volume in this shop is a lot lower compared to the staff that Walmart have dedicated to customer assistance.
Overall, in relation to service and customer assistance operations, Walmart appeals to be of a more positively defined shop for this category. However, when it comes to the homey feel of the store, Kmart ranks higher than the other. Perhaps it is the popularity level of the two stores that differs from each other; which also affects the condition of shopping experience that the customers get from both shops.
Summary of Findings
The experience garnered from this project insists on the fact that stores differ from each other due to the existence of two particular aspects one is popularity and another is market positioning. Basically, both aspects affect each other accordingly making one distinctively in control of the other and vice versa. Most often than not, the champion [or the more popular shop] takes a more confident stand in relation to that of the challenger [the smaller or less popular shop]. This then dictates the process by which both shops operate in the market. What constitutes to be a source of competition is the way the store staffs deal with the customers, their needs and their demands during the time of their stay in the shop. Being able to contend with the needs of the customer is probably the strongest source of confidence for the store managers and owners as a whole.