business news in context, analysis with attitude

MNB user Gail Ginther writes, in response to yesterday’s email from another member of the MNB community about an awful shopping experience at Kmart:

“Several months ago in some remark I was making, I cited more than one Wal-Mart customer service failing that I had directly participated in. Your remark at the time was a dismissal along the lines of sometimes things aren't the way they should be but you can't judge the whole by a part. Why
wasn't that same approach taken to the tale of woe from a single Kmart?

“My local Kmart is clean, organized, re-merchandised frequently. The staff are pleasant and helpful and many of them have been there as long as I've shopped there. You do hear personal conversations, especially from young checkout associates. But I run into that everywhere I shop. Thirty years ago in the department store world, carrying on a personal conversation in front of customers was a major taboo, I don't get the impression that it's even mentioned now in training. Another reason for using self-checkout.

“I don't think that Kmart's really going to come out of this any more than you do, but you do seem to cut Wal-Mart a little more slack in your reporting and comments. Just my personal opinion and impression.”

We’d like to think that rather than being easy on Wal-Mart, it’s likely that we’re just too tough on Kmart. But we appreciate being kept on the straight and narrow…sometimes it’s tough to be consistent, try as we might.

Regarding our story and commentary about Wal-Mart Neighborhood Markets springing up, one MNB user writes:

“We can speculate on the number of units until the cows come home. The exact number seems immaterial to me. The thing that strikes me is the way Wal-Mart is tailoring the store to the demographics of its surrounding market.

“Bentonville knows their brand is strong enough to bring in the bodies. Their center store reflects that brand with competitive prices every day. By morphing perishables, liquor, gas etc. to meet local tastes and/or regulations they are giving each store a tailor fit to its environment.

“In production management this is called ‘mass-customization.’ You take a strong core product and design it to be easily adapted to numerous personal tastes in order to make the custom ‘feel’ affordable. My only question is whether I can get it with the six speed transmission?”
KC's View: