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Competitive Advantages in Discount Stores

When you walk into Wal-Mart the first that that hits you is a display of household items that are point of purchase items. There tends to be laundry detergent, Kleenex, and toilet paper. These items are sometimes on sale and are usually the ones that people forget to put on their list. The store itself is very crowded, but the atmosphere is friendly. Most of the shoppers are in Wal-Mart to get low prices and a lot of variety. I agree that Wal-Mart has a lot of items, but the kinds of brands tend to be that of a lesser quality than you would find at Shop-Ko.

It is easy to locate products and has large variety of brands. The parking is absolutely terrible, after all, how many handicap people are there? The only way to get fast checkout is by using the register in the garden center or film shop. Another advantage of Wal-Mart is that they have one-hour photo. Pulling up to the lot and seeing all of the cars is a major turn off! Wal-Mart products are the least expensive and they take pride in that. After all, their slogan is everyday low prices guaranteed. One question to ponder, why is there smoking inside Wal-Mart?

This does not make sense and gives a lower class kind of image to the store. Wal-Mart has an optical center and a hair salon. An optical center does not seem out of league, but hair cutting in a discount store? That tends to make one think that the qualifications of the stylist may be discount also. To work at an optical center, there are strict restrictions in the trade. The outside of the store looks like a serve all kind of store. There is an automotive and garden center visible from the outside and when looking at the Wal-Mart sign you see a big yellow smiley face.

K-mart and Shop-Ko must compete because they are usually the second choice to Wal-Mart. There are not nearly as many brands at K-Mart as there are at Wal-Mart, but there are groceries that help to make it a one-stop shop. Customers have always been K-Mart shoppers and that is why they continue to shop there. Customer service is right where you need it, and is accessible at almost any time. The traffic situation is not even an issue because there is plenty of front row parking. The aroma from the food court is a nice way to stimulate customer appetite for sales.

Another advantage is that there is a nice little kiddy horse-go-round. When I was little, before Wal-Mart existed, my mom took us to K-Mart and if we acted on our best behavior we were allowed to ride the horses. When approaching K-Mart you notice the fast food places right outside, which would be ideal for a parent that has hungry children in the car. If mom or dad needs to stop off for a few things the kids get a treat too. Also they have the advantage of being located in a mini strip mall. Fashion Bug, Eagle/Osco, and the Dollar Tree are all very close.

Shop-ko however seems to have the highest quality of products. This stored is designed for people that feel spending the extra money buys quality. They carry Paul Mitchell and Red Ken hair products at less than salon prices, and hair a wide selection of picture frames and candles. For students that are accustomed to shopping at Target, Shop-ko is a perfect alternative. Workers seem to bend over backwards, is it boredom or just great customer service? I do not know, but it pleases shoppers. The parking is another advantage Shop-Ko has over K-Mart & Wal-Mart. It does not share parking with anyone else.

The addition of Payless Shoe Store contributes greatly to the needs of consumers. Payless has a good reputation among “poor” college students and should attract some students away from Wal-Mart. The outside of the building looks very new and well kept. 2. K-mart definitely has the competitive advantage as far as location. It is not the extra mile out of town and has other shops nearby. Unfortunately, Wal-Mart is superior enough to have the drawing power of customers. Shop-ko seems to have higher quality and higher priced products, but does not have as large of a variety as Wal-Mart or the everyday low prices.

K-Mart is kind of the middleman; it has more similar merchandise to Wal-Mart, but tends to charge a little bit more. Overall, Wal-Mart is the cheapest discount store with the largest variety of brands. The best service is given by K-Mart and Shop-ko. Both stores have customer service located right in the front and the lines are not that long. Wal-Mart seems to have the most point of purchase approach compared to Macomb’s other discount stores. There are very large signs clearly showing the price off all sale merchandise. At Shop-ko some items are not even correctly priced.

I don’t think that Shop-ko will be driven out of Macomb because they have higher quality merchandise. It is also a convenient alternative to the chaos of Wal-Mart. The new addition of Payless should be a good investment. There are not very many “shoe” stores in Macomb and Payless is popular and successful. Plus the customer service skills seem to be better than the other two stores. I think that Internet will impact all of the stores greatly. If a person is looking for a specific brand or an item the internet enables them to find the exact product wanted.

I think that “brand affirmation” will be the only advantage of using the store online. The cost of shipping would be ridiculous for the amount of time it actually takes to just go to the store. The only way the internet will be extremely successful is if the stores offer to have an order ready at a certain time, at the store for the shopper. It would be convenient to have all the products a consumer desires bagged and ready to go. The internet may also be used for stockholders, people interested in learning more about the store, and people looking for employment.

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