Target Bests Walmart In Prices: Does Service Trump Supply Chain?
By admin In Uncategorized Posted March 10, 2011 0 Comments

A recent study by Customer Growth Partner seems to indicate that Target is beating Wal-Mart on Wal-Mart’s home turf. Now the study they conducted (as reported in Chicago Breaking News) is limited in scope. It only looked at 35 brand name items in 3 states, but it does seem to mirror experiences seen by consumers nationally. The question is–how? How have they been able to quietly orchestrate this quiet coup?

From notional studies does by my students, it appears that while Wal-Mart has focused on perfecting the supply chain, Target has worked diligently on the last 100 feet. That is, Target has been working to ensure that a product, once in the store, makes it into the consumer’s hands. They have done this through the application of technology and a customer-centric view of the store.

Yes, that’s right–Target is beginning to pull ahead by focusing on the customer. While the technology piece is impressive, with their handheld devices that can tell each employee what is in stock not only in that store but in nearby stores, their “order winner” seems to be their focus on the customer. It doesn’t mean much to have technology in your hands if your employees don’t interact with the customers in a way that makes the customer feel comfortable in your store.

It has been my experience that when asked about product availability, Target employees are more willing to seek out the product in the store and help the customer leave with what they were seeking. The Wal-Mart experience has been… let’s just say not as pleasant.

It now looks like supply chain efficiencies are reduced to an order qualifier, while in store technology and old-fashioned person-to-person customer service are the new “Order Winners.”

What are your thoughts?

Share them with me at steve @ sctoday.net or on twitter: @SCMProfessor

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