's Clearance Deals Get an Annoying Twist

Wal-MartFor some time, Walmart's (WMT) website has had a "Clearance" section -- and it had been growing: There are 2,921 items for sale in that section, and the prices are remarkably cheap. But the clearance program is testing a new, less customer-friendly wrinkle.

Now, some of the clearance products offered online have to be picked up at stores unless the customer wants to pay for home shipping. It's not clear why the company is trying this, but it may be because the prices on those products are so good, management hopes to use them as incentive to lure shoppers to their stores. The cost -- either to the world's largest retailer or to its customers -- to ship them would dwarf their prices.

Walmart seems to be offloading inventory and hope consumers will make additional purchases.

The beta program requiring buyers to pick up online clearance specials at brick-and-mortar outlets has clear potential benefits to the retailer, but it has its risks as well. Yes, those online customers may well buy other products when they visit Walmart stores. And Walmart could even price those clearance products to lose money under the theory that the other items bought by the shoppers picking them up will make the total order a profit -- the classic "loss leader" strategy.

On the other hand, American shoppers are still being frugal -- and selective. If all someone wants is one specific item they see online, who's going to want to travel to a store to it pick up? Therein lies the risk for Walmart.

One clearance product Walmart has highlighted online is a $3 girl's shirt, marked down from $5. Next to the shirt is the notation "Sold in stores, stock status not available online." Another offering in the section: a Barnes and Noble (BKS) NOOK eBook Reader with Wi-Fi for $119.54, marked down from $148. Walmart will send it to a store for free, but it won't ship it to a customer's home without a fee.

Walmart has had what it calls "Site to Store" deliver for a long time, but the "In My Store" system is new. Walmart almost certainly is gambling that buyers won't just pick up that $3 shirt or discounted Nook. The merchandise experts at Walmart must believe people will be unable to avoid making additional purchases from aisle after aisle of low-priced products. But if they're wrong, this new strategy won't drive customers into stores -- it will drive them away from their website.

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You won't pay 10% more if Walmart sources all its stuff from the United States (something that isn't even possible; not much stuff is made here anymore), you'll pay far more than that, in most cases.

Not that I disagree with you (although that has nothing to do with our national deficit; our national deficit comes solely from the government spending more than it takes in, year in and year out, because those are the kinds of politicians most people vote for); I'm saying that horse left the barn a long time ago.

Back in the 1980s when a lot more Chinese stuff started showing up in stores, I didn't buy it. Partly because the quality was low (I didn't want to get under a car supported by Chinese jackstands, for example, or jack it up with a Chinese floor jack) and partly to support American manufacturing. Most people, though, they just bought the Chinese stuff. The result is that now, you can hardly get American-made stuff anymore and because of all the money they made, the Chinese manufacturers were able to improve their process enough that most of their stuff is now pretty good. Not as good as Japanese and not as good as American either, mostly, but pretty good. Mostly.

They've even moved into silicon. I know someone who once worked at a silicon wafer fab, but that fab closed and the manufacturing went to China. Wait a few more years and see if most chips aren't made there, too.

WRT Walmart itself, take a walk through Kmart, Target, or any other Walmart competitor and see how much of their stuff is made in the United States. You'll find they are no better than Walmart on this, maybe worse. Walmart, at least sells a lot of Sterilite products, and I'm happy to say that Sterilite is 100% US-made. If you want to encourgage Walmart to sell American-made goods, instead of refusing to shop there, it might be better to go there and buy the American stuff they do sell.

August 02 2011 at 4:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I wonder if it's because those stores already have the product, it's -there-. It's in the store, hiding in the back room or something, and they've put it online to help advertise it better. So when you order it, they could ship it to you, but it's cheaper all around to just leave it at the store and have you come pick it up?

August 02 2011 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Dawn Lloyd

Oooooohhhhh. Stores charging for shipping! Now THATS news!

August 02 2011 at 12:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

walmart could be the best employer in the world, they choose not to be. I have not shopped in a walmart for over 3 years and do not miss it at all. There are better bargains everywhere.

August 01 2011 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Til 'Walmart' starts looking for and selling more 'MADE IN AMERICA' products I wil shop elsewhere. You pick up a AMERICAN brand only to find out it was made in CHINA. I would rather pay say a additional 10% and have goods sold by AMERICA companies made by (and thus employing) AMERICANS. If we keep going the way we are ($14 Trillion) in debt, soon we will be required to learn Chinese!

July 31 2011 at 1:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Heather Verhagen

I ran into this when I tried to order something for a dollar something. It ships for $8 to the store that makes it. I'm guessing Walmart doesn't want to pay for the item to be shipped to Walmart. Well, too bad, guys, I'm not buying it, because I don't have the store chain anywhere near me. Why couldn't they have put $10 on it and had it in store? I don't get it.... This probably isn't such a great idea, guys.

July 26 2011 at 1:31 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Heather Verhagen's comment
Heather Verhagen

It was a very small item...wouldn't have taken much to ship at all!

July 26 2011 at 1:34 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

So, Walmart charges for shipping and is not nice to every employee. What news this is!!!
Look! Shipping costs money. Someone must pay it. Walmart is in business to make money. Who pays? You do, if you order stuff. Same deal for Amazon, and every other company. Figure it out! Is it worth it for what you get. Look at the whole cost: Cost of item + cost of shipping + cost to go get it at a store +convenience to have it shipped to your door. You decide. You pay for what you want. No gun to your head. It is a matter of what makes sense for you. You choose; you pay for what you order. Be smart about this!!!
Workers? You are not slaves. If you don't like working somewhere, Walmart or for any compayany, just find another job. Oh, so you can't find another job? Well, go to school, increase your talents and abiliites and then look for another job. Oh, so it's tough out there? Yeah, no kidding....
Yes, it is tough. I know. I've got a bunch of degrees and certifications and I'm still working part-time, going from unemployed to underemployes but doing what I can to pay my bills. Am I complaining? Nope. No one owes me a job. I do owe it to my family take care of them. We will make it work. I'm upsidedown on my house I had expected to sell by now for a nice profit. Food, gas, most everything is going up, but we find ways to keep on going. If the idiots in Washington will just get past this debt ceiling thing so we don't have another recession, that would be refreshing! Odd, we talk about problems caused by terrorists, but this Congress and the President are scaring me a lot more than Al Qaeda or the Taliban or any of the wierdos in Iraq or Iran. What is happening to our Country?
And somebody says "Walmart need a union."? For what? So gangs of people can push their employer into paying them more than they are worth to do less work than they are paid for?
Is Walmart perfect? No. Are any of us perfect? I don't think so. From what I hear, the only perfect person who ever lived was killed by those in authority, in charge of the greatest religion of the time.
And what should we do? Do what we can. Help others. Appreciate that companies find ways to employ people. Perfect? No, but we can make choices in what we buy and from whom, where we work and what we will tolerate.
What we don't have as a choice, it seems, is for our Congress and President to act like adults and work together for what is best for our Country. Seems like they are ALL more focused on the 2012 election!!!
Good luck and God Bless!

July 26 2011 at 12:24 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply

Target Target Target

July 25 2011 at 1:25 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

A fan should be cooling you off from at least 10 ft away or else it's worthless. About 95% of the fans you find can't do the job an they usually are the first to be returned. Lets face if the fan is drawing less than 1 AMP it probably stinks. There are no fans drawing less than 1 amp that are much good as you would need to buy several to feel cool.

July 25 2011 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Until walmart starts supporting american manufacturing we should not be shopping there. they are the biggest reason for our unemployment with their made in china items and forcing american manufactures to ship jobs overseas

July 25 2011 at 12:48 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to rini1946's comment

You may want to check and see the number of people Walmart employs. No one forces them on where to buy. It is a simple case of value of a product ( quality + price ) to serve their customer. Why are they one of the biggest retailers in the world ?

July 25 2011 at 7:54 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply