retail news in context, analysis with attitude

Today is Walmart's annual shareholder meeting in Arkansas, so let's just stipulate that there will be the usual combination of cheerleading and high profile entertainment acts (this year, Cheap Trick and Aerosmith), as well as some unrest because of concerns about the mexican bribery scandal - and its cover up - in which the company and its top executives have been implicated.

But there is another Walmart-related story to which attention should be paid...

Reuters reports that Walmart plans to "launch a monthly mail subscription service called 'Goodies' that will allow customers to sample new foods not found in stores run by the world's biggest retailer ... Once a month, subscribers will get a surprise box of items that will include artisanal foods," the company said.

According to the story, the initiative "comes as Wal-Mart samples its customers' appetite for a wider variety of food while it experiments with grocery delivery in the San Francisco Bay area and parts of Chicago ... At first, Wal-Mart will select the products sent to subscribers, though over time companies may be able to pay to have their products included in the Goodies boxes."

The company has not yet said what the service will cost.

In other Walmart news...

• Walmart has decided to pull out of the American Legislative Council (ALEC), a conservative advocacy group made up mostly of corporations and Republican lawmakers and lobbyists, that has been the subject of criticism lately because of its support of so-called "Stand Your Ground" gun laws and voter identification laws that some say would disenfranchise poor and minority citizens.

According to the Reuters story, Walmart said it was suspending its membership in ALEC, which it joined in 1993, joining "other groups that have backed away from supporting ALEC," including Coca-Cola Co, Kraft Foods Inc, McDonald's Corp, Procter & Gamble Co and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
KC's View:

Not to say "I told you so," but I'd like to point out that on the sixth edition of our recent MNB TV series, which you can watch by clicking on the screen at left, we talked specifically about how the "Goodies" model could be used by traditional retailers ... and we did it before Walmart announced its initiative.

This speaks volumes about where Walmart sees itself heading in terms of food marketing and e-commerce.