Walmart Goes All Local with Facebook Deal

Discussion
Oct 12, 2011
George Anderson

Walmart has over 3,500 stores in the U.S., and now each and every one will have its own Facebook page. A new initiative between the retailer and Facebook has resulted in the "My Local Walmart" app that will provide consumers with information relevant to the store where they shop.

"From the checkout line to our Facebook wall, Walmart continues to engage with and listen to its customers," said Stephen Quinn, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Walmart U.S., in a press release "Our innovative approach with Facebook allows us to bridge the gap between local and social, giving millions of customers the personalized shopping experience they expect from Walmart."

"Walmart’s new app offers enhanced local interaction at an unprecedented scale to their customers," said Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions, Facebook. "Walmart continues to put people at the center of their marketing, in this case by bringing relationships to life locally."

Among the news consumers can expect to see on their local Walmart page is information about new products, price rollbacks and special events in the store. Consumers will also be able to get a map of their local store.

"It’s impossible to put out a generic map," Mr. Quinn told Reuters. "This allows us to put out store maps for each local store."

To access their store’s page, consumers go to Walmart’s corporate Facebook page and then click on the "My Local Walmart" tab.

In the future, Walmart is looking to provide personalized offers to consumers based on products they "like" on Facebook.

"This is just scratching the surface," Mr. Quinn told The Associated Press. "We are just getting started on a social media revolution."

Discussion Questions: What will the “My Local Walmart” offering on Facebook mean for Walmart, its customers and the competition? How significant an indicator is “My Local Walmart” in terms of the future direction Walmart intends to take with its business?

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18 Comments on "Walmart Goes All Local with Facebook Deal"


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Charles P. Walsh
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Charles P. Walsh
9 years 6 months ago

It’s a great idea and an impressive accomplishment. I am just imagining the possibilities if Walmart can combine customer data at the local level with empowered local management to “push” individual customer focused product information, promotions or even local Groupon-type deals for their store.

It can also be a way for Walmart to better tap their local marketplace to fine tune their store assortments and truly make them “stores of the community.”

I see this as a groundbreaking opportunity for Walmart, but as usual it all depends upon the amount of imagination and execution that is devoted to developing and supporting it over time.

Warren Thayer
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

My initial reaction was “oh, puh-leez!” But when I thought about it a second, I figured “why not?” If it helps a subset of customers who find it useful, how can you criticize Walmart for that? I’m sure it’s part of their effort to seem “local,” which may or may not gain any traction.

Ed Rosenbaum
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Walmart seems to have it when it comes to the power of social media. My first thought when I read the article was, this is over the top. There are so many Walmarts in any geographic proximity that you could spend too much time on the site looking for bargains. By the time you selected a location, the bargain is gone.

Max Goldberg
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

I don’t think this will mean much, other than clutter and confusion. Do consumers really want to hunt for their local WM on Facebook and check back regularly to find out what’s happening in-store?

Matthew Keylock
Guest
Matthew Keylock
9 years 6 months ago

I think the idea of being locally relevant and highly personalized is great for any business.

As already mentioned by Charles, there could be a significant follow-through effort required to keep this current and turn this into a social engagement that really benefits the customers and community. Likely this effort needs to stretch beyond marketing.

The same is probably true for personalization. Brand “likes” don’t provide the scale or resolution for true personalization and relevance. It may be better than just mass offers, but there is some way to go here to compare well with the competitive set.

Likely it will be good for some customers, but whether it is good for the customers that Walmart should be focusing on is another question.

Nice idea though; look forward to seeing how it develops.

Lisa Bradner
Guest
Lisa Bradner
9 years 6 months ago
Ed, I think you have a great point. I like the idea (and being in the geo-local space of course I’m happy when the world’s largest retailer embraces local) but it feels too literal. LOTS of data and information to manage, lots of potentially missed connections and quite possibly a “have and have not” where some stores have a ton of things going on and others are wastelands. I’d like to see a look at regional executions or at community executions that tap a virtual as well as a physical community. I think this is a great first run but it’s going to be hard to administer and risks collapsing on its own weight. An approach focused on “versioning’ and modeling common interest groups as well as providing store locations and maps (e.g. I’m looking for layaway on the baby stroller in pink where in my neighborhood (work, home or .com) is the best place to get it and who in my network can tell me about it?) is more compelling to me. Maybe that’s… Read more »
Dan Berthiaume
Guest
Dan Berthiaume
9 years 6 months ago

Local Facebook pages for individual stores is an amazing idea that only a company with resources like Walmart’s (or a much smaller chain) could pull off. It is a clear sign that social media is becoming more localized and personalized, and companies that can capitalize on this trend will reap the rewards. Walmart has made some missteps in recent years, but this looks like a winner.

Ian Percy
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Is it just me or can you feel the Walmart love here? I got all misty reading this. Please…give me a moment.

So Walmart ‘puts PEOPLE at the center of their marketing’. What were their other options, you may wonder. Corporate profits? Market dominance? Wringing blood from the vendor’s stone? Oh you hard-hearted cynics!

They ‘bring relationships to life’. How can you not be moved by that? Again you may wonder what other kinds of relationships there are besides ‘living’ ones, but come on.

And the store map! I can’t count the times where just before going shopping I’ve wished I could stop and check out the store map so I could plot my route. Yes, supposedly this is “my” local store and I’ve been there a thousand times, but you never know when a map will come in handy. Where exactly is the strawberry jam — the big sign that says “Jams and Jellies” just doesn’t do it for me.

If you’ve got Walmart, who needs Friends?

And Warren…you had me at “oh, puh-leez!”

Ed Dennis
Guest
Ed Dennis
9 years 6 months ago

This could be a disaster as it is a proven thing that dissatisfied customers tend to complain while satisfied customers say nothing. I frequently shop at Walmart and often walk out disappointed, usually due to out-of-stocks. If I post on Facebook, is the local manager going to read it and react to fix the problem? If so, this will be great. If not, then I am not sure if it has a reason for being and will wither on the vine.

David Biernbaum
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Walmart’s all-local Facebook initiative is outstanding and right on the money. It’s the right thing to do on so many levels.

Fabien Tiburce
Guest
Fabien Tiburce
9 years 6 months ago

As a software and product company, we often get pitched by (mostly offshore) companies that tell us they can do our software development (this won’t happen since we are agile and do our software development in-house, collaboratively and very effectively I might add!). But the point is these emails often include “We specialize in …” followed by a list of every technology known to man. If you specialize, you can’t by definition specialize in everything. And that’s the feeling I am getting with Facebook: they specialize in everything and the Facebook “product” and “experience” is turning into bloatware. If you are a social network, be the best social network you can be. Help your users connect with friends; that’s an important task as it is. Piling on features actually decreases and threatens the value of the platform. Bottom line: good day for Walmart, not so good day for Facebook.

Carlos Arambula
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Not too long ago Walmart was accused of destroying local businesses. By having “My Local Walmart” it reduces flack from community activists and it can potentially create a “community” in support of the retailer.

There are tremendous future benefits as well. As social media becomes de rigueur for the next generation of shoppers it allows the retailer to target shoppers based on their preferences, local trends, weather, and community preferences (as in ethnic products or holidays).

The challenge will be to get communities to participate in a regular basis, but with the changes in consumer behavior due to connectivity, it might not be a difficult challenge.

Dan Frechtling
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

We’re starting to see some of the social promise from the Kosmix acquisition (now @WalmartLabs). Good to see some things come out of the Labs and into the marketplace. A few challenges?

Operations: Fans say they want Walmart to inform them of local specials, in-store events and inventory. Due to immense planning, executing this on Black Friday is possible. It’s not clear Walmart can fulfill this on a regular basis.

Information: Is Walmart willing to share its customer information with Facebook given privacy and competitive risk? Amazon and Google were innocuous before they became Walmart competitors, and Facebook is making its own e-commerce moves.

Participation: Walmart has 9.5MM active “Likes,” or 270 per store if 100% conversion. But most aren’t active. The number of participating Likes based on response to the Wall messages is less than 6600, or less than 2 per store. As Lisa suggests, we will see plenty of “have not” stores.

Expect to see a lot of visible experimentation and largely invisible data harnessing. Walmart can learn a lot from the hyperlocal activity it generates.

Joel Rubinson
Guest
9 years 6 months ago

Let me be the contrarian here. If it turns out that many people went to walmart.com to get local store information and this diverts traffic to Facebook pages instead, this will be a disaster. I will take traffic to my owned media website over traffic to my Facebook page any day of the week! Also, I bet the traffic to walmart.com is 100 times greater than the traffic to their Facebook page because people do not visit brand Facebook pages very often.

Maureen Sloan
Guest
Maureen Sloan
9 years 6 months ago

It’s significant. As it is now, the stores vary in the merchandise they stock from area to area catering to the local customer. The local banners, local uniforms on down to the souvenirs they sell, all customize stores to their locale, target shoppers and employees. Community outreach has been and continues to be the most important aspect of a successful marketing plan.

Ronnie Perchik
Guest
Ronnie Perchik
9 years 6 months ago

This is yet another example of how Digital Marketing, and other forms of nontraditional, can revive and improve the customer experience. Walmart’s angle is localization, and if it succeeds, Walmart-goers will be interacting with this giant brand in a way they can relate to.

Social media allows brands to listen to their customers, and adjust accordingly. This is exactly what Walmart has done, and clearly plans to continue to do. They must maintain this 2-way line of communication, and keep listening, though, to ensure they are meeting expectations.

Vahe Katros
Guest
Vahe Katros
9 years 6 months ago

Facebook data can be a proxy that a firm like Walmart might use along with scanned data — what is the value of knowing what articles, music, books, groups and clubs were “liked” by a set of your consumers — consumers where you know their age, sex, religion, education….

Anne Bieler
Guest
Anne Bieler
9 years 6 months ago

Shrewd move for the WM shoppers who research carefully looking for the best value. It’s always frustrating for shoppers when the products/deals advertised “are not available at this store” — a good chance to connect here. Listing special events on the site could be a nice touch; personalization could really differentiate.

However, more importantly than ever, timely execution is key — diligence and continuous updating required to keep relevance. Tired or outdated information will defeat the initiative as word spreads quickly!

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