retail news in context, analysis with attitude

• The American Banker reports that Walmart, which "traditionally been a low-cost provider of prepaid cards," has decided to begin "giving its customers the ability to put cash into cards backed by Green Dot, InComm's Vanilla Reload Network and First Data's Money Network.

"At the same time, the retail giant is simplifying the way prepaid card users load money onto those prepaid cards by allowing customers to hand over cash at the register rather than just at specialized areas of the store called Wal-Mart Money Centers."

Walmart will make a little money on the deal. The Banker notes that "Wal-Mart is leaving room to still be the lowest cost provider at its own stores. Its own Wal-Mart money card has a reload fee of $3. The fee the store chain will charge customers that place cash on other cards will be $3.74 or less, according to a Wal-Mart spokeswoman."

• In Florida, the Naples News reports that Tony Rogers, Walmart's senior vice president for marketing, told an annual News Industry Summit there that the retailer is engaged in an ongoing effort to find ways to be more local.

"We think there's an opportunity to take our message local, but we need to find innovative ways to do that so that you don't sacrifice the scale of the national buy," he told the group. As part of that effort, Rogers said that the company needs to move beyond the newspaper circulars that have long been its stock in trade. "The idea really is to reach the customers where they are so if our customers get most of their information from a mobile phone, I need to figure out how to be on their mobile phone," Rogers said.
KC's View:
Newspaper circulars are dying. That segment of the ad business is, IMHO, well on its way to oblivion. No question that Walmart ... and every other retailer ... has to aggressively find alternatives, and mobile is definitely the way to go.