It's a Wal-Mart World


Mag publishers fret over Wal-Mart's newsstand clout, but not just for the retailer's prudish views on cover art. Turns out publishers like it when you have to stand around and wait to check out. You are more likely to flip thru a mag and buy it. Wal-Mart, trying to make customers happy, is also embracing self-scan technologies which obviate flip-thru time killing.

Also, Wal-Mart is more than willing to give the magazines' primo checkout location to some other category—if that category is more profitable.

NEXT: Down to the (High) Wire

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  1. Giving consumers what they want–how awful!

  2. The biggest error here is the suggestion that Wal-Mart gives away primo checkout space. That space is for sale – and not at Wal-Mart discount prices.

  3. How come I don’t see Reason at the Wal-Mart magazine rack? Offensive subject matter?

  4. Self check-outs at Wal-mart aren’t going to speed up a thing. There’s enough idiots around that some one will always be there to clog up the line trying to figure those darned things out.

  5. Hmm, you don’t think not enough WalMart customers want to buy Reason for WalMart to stock it? Nah, that couldn’t be it. They’d rather lose money than give their customers an atheistic libertine rag! No doubt thousands ask for it every day and have to leave disappointed, subject to disapproving glares.

  6. The key to the popularity of self-checkout is that it seems like you’re going faster because you’re actively involved in process, instead of waiting around. Also, they’re nice if you’re buying something you’re embarassed about.

  7. This reminds me of an incident a few weeks ago: I had mentioned an interesting article I saw in the Economist earlier in the day. We stopped by Wally-Mart for some Q-tips later on, and I found her searching their magazine rack (in vain) for a copy of the Economist. I had to tell her, as gently as possible, that I thought her chances of success were about 2 bazillion to 1 ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. Er, somehow the word “wife” escaped from my comment. It might have made some sense if I’d said that I was with my wife at Wally-Mart. Doh!

  9. Does that happen often when you’re conversing with strangers? ๐Ÿ˜‰

  10. WalMart works on the “waiting captive audience” principle as well. Take their oil change / tire service business. Sure, they do this fairly straight-forward, commodity-like car maintenance work on the cheap, but they intentionally understaff it so that you are almost guaranteed to be waiting at least an hour. The usual outcome – customer sighs and groans about the wait, then realizes that he/she is low on laundry detergent and skim milk…

  11. I happen to like self service check out lines. They typically have two to three times as many open as regular check out counters so even if one gets tide up you normally have one open.

    They are especially great once you figure out how to scan items, believe it or not there is a touch of skill to do it quickly and efficiently.

    Finally, I believe most of the fear associated with Wal-Mart has to do with their market power. If you produce a product and can get it on their shelves you’re almost gauranteed a success.

    This is similar to being in Oprah’s book club and being interviewed on here TV show. Almost a guarantee.

    Thus, the question is should one person or corporation have that much power in the market place? If they shouldn’t what can a government do to curtail it? Would the curtailment be worse than the disease?

    Clearly on this website, government interference would be no solution at all. Yet, although I sometimes regret market forces I typically find governmental influence to be far worse.



  12. It’s not like the magazines in the checkout line are really worth reading. It’s usually Cosmo, Glamour, Seventeen, People, Woman’s World, and, inexplicably, Archie Comics. Does anyone read Archie anymore?

    And self-scan checkouts are a fantastic idea. I work at a Wal-Mart.. seemingly, they try to hire as few cashiers as possible to up the store’s profit, so the lines are always insane.For the one-time investment of putting those things in, maybe the few cashiers that they do have on duty won’t be so strung-out. The machine can’t fuck up and give the wrong amount of change back, either.

  13. It takes the same amount of time to do the checkout at the self-checkout, but you don’t have to wait in line and the people ahead or you can’t:
    1.Argue about the price of an item.
    2.Get a price check.
    3.Pull out the checkbook after everything’s been scanned and say “who do I make it out to? Can I make it $20 over”.
    4.Argue whether the store will take the competitor’s expired coupon for 5 cents off, etc

    I’ve always said there should be a ‘Men’s Checkout’ where these things wouldn’t be allowed and that’s what self-checkout amounts to.
    It has saved my sanity on more than one occasion, technology be praised!

  14. Wal-mart self check out is an insult! Someone tell me again; why did I go back to college to get out of my dead-end grocery store job? It sure as #@** was not so that I could check groceries!

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