Business success is highly dependent on its retail mix, as a strategy to compete effectively in the market. Variables in the retail ix including pricing, location, promotion, store layout and design, visual merchandising and customer service among others should therefore be well designed in order to develop a higher niche among competitors. This paper is a review of the retail mix concept with the Wal-Mart retail outlet located on 1576 Regent Avenue W, Winnipeg, MB, Canada being the case study for the review. The retail enterprise is conveniently located at the Regent Ave/ Boulevard Lagimodiere junction and attracts a large number of consumers. The enterprise stocks a wide variety of goods ranging from kitchen ware, to electronics and is considered a one-stop-shop. However, the product range within each category is limited since the enterprise only deals with a few large suppliers. The store provides favorable prices and discounts and is therefore a preferred destination for shoppers. The display at the store is well done and is moderately attractive but with well designed displays for certain items, mostly done by the suppliers. The store is preferred due to the spacious aisles that are perfect for people accompanied by children. Besides, customer care service at the enterprise is excellent and customers receive maximum attention from attendants. In order to attract customers, the enterprise usually makes use of TV and newspaper advertising.
The retail mix at this enterprise could be improved if the shortcomings are mitigated. For example, there is need to provide a wide range of selection in order to give customers better choice. The enterprise also needs to embrace internet advertising given that it is the most modern method and could reach many people. Overall, the enterprise must keep upgrading their services in order to attract customers and improve its position among competitors
The success of any business in the contemporary market calls for the designing of a creative retail mix aimed at reducing the impact of competition. A retail mix refers to the variables combined by retailers in order to create a marketing strategy to attract and retain customers. Variables including pricing, location, promotion, store layout and design, visual merchandising and customer service among other variables should be effectively aligned in order to compete effectively in the highly volatile market. This is a report of the retail mix at Wal-Mart, located on 1576 Regent Avenue W, Winnipeg, MB, Canada. This information was obtained with the help of an interview conducted with Wayne Demers, the store manager on 11th November 2010 at 12.30 pm, at his office along Regent Avenue W. The report also includes a critique of the retail mix and offers practical recommendations that the store could use to promote its business in future.
Operation of the retail enterprise
Like most Wal-Mart stores, the Regent Avenue store offers a wide variety of products to choose from and is a preferred shopping destination for many customers in Winnipeg. The store opens at 6AM and closes at 12AM on Mondays and is open 24 hours a day from Tuesday to Friday. On Saturday, the store opens at 12AM and closes at 11PM. On Sunday, the store is open between 12PM and 6PM; a requirement that is actually a by-law. Due to the large number of customers that the retail store handles, the store employs over 200 employees.
Retail mix for Wal-Mart, Regent Avenue W, Winnipeg
This retail enterprise combines a number of strategic factors which are responsible for its overwhelming success. Despite its popularity in the area, Wayne Demers notes that the management must continually seek to improve the overall image of the store in order to attract more business and to retain existing customers.
This Wal-Mart outlet is conveniently located on Regent Avenue W near the junction of Stapon Road and Regent Ave W. It is just next to the Regent Ave/ Boulevard Lagimodiere junction which provides a good proximity for motorists using the Boulevard Lagimodiere road and diners at Perkins Restaurant at the junction. Nearby is the Kildonan Place Shopping Center such that it is likely to attract an inflow of customers as they do their shopping and go to the restaurants. It is a free-standing store occupying the entire building.
The retail store stocks a wide variety of products such that it can be described as a one-stop-shop. The expansive store handles hundreds of products which are well arranged in categories such that it is easy for customers to shop. Products ranging from kitchen ware, to electronics can be found at different sections in the store. Among the major items include foodstuffs, kitchen ware, electronics, toys, clothing, shoes; furniture and beauty products.
Notably, the number of items in each category of goods is not large. This is an indication that the retail shop deals with a few distributors such that wide selection among products is limited. For example, you might find that while there are very many refrigerators in the store, there is however a limited choice as most products belong to companies such as Samsung, LG, Ramtons and General Electric among other prominent companies. It therefore follows that customers do not have a wide range of products to choose from and are therefore forced to take what is there or to look for alternatives in other stores.
The pricing at the retail store is low as compared to other retail shops in the area. It is common to find commodities costing up to 15% less in the Wal-Mart store as compared to the other retail shops in the area. This serves as an advantage to this particular stores and leads to a constant inflow of customers seeking to save money during their shopping sprees. The store occasionally offers discounts to customers on a variety of items in order to increase sales. These discounts often attract a large number of customers to the store and new orders to refill empty shelves have to keep coming. According to the manager, this is strategy that has helped the Wal-Mart store to develop a lasting relationship with customers such that they tend to be loyal to the store.
The Wal-Mart store is committed in ensuring that information regarding its products is effectively disseminated to the public. In this respect, the retail store makes use of TV advertisement and newspaper insert ads. TV is an effective media to transmit information because it is likely to reach a considerable audience (Zoltan, 1998). Information regarding products, prices and discounts is often provided on TV during the evening hours when people are expected to be at home. This ensures that a significant number of potential customers can see the advertisement hence maximize the efficiency of the advert (Pettigrew, Thomas & Whittington, 2002). Newspaper advertisements by the enterprise are mostly placed in the classifieds corner. People are more likely to visit the classifieds pages when they are looking for places to shop. This therefore provides a convenient place to place an advertisement. Occasionally, the retail store may secure a big space on the newspaper to advertise an oncoming sale or to sensitize customers on discounts available at the store. The use of vouchers is also a common method of advertising. Vouchers given to customers have information regarding the company’s products such that customers are well acquainted with the store’s products. Banners and posters placed in conspicuous places around Winnipeg also help to popularize the store with an objective of increasing the sales.
Store design and display
The store layout is moderately attractive with special display for certain products being highly eminent. Shelves are well arranged and the prices well displayed. Selected products, depending on the suppliers, are arranged in well designed displays that make their locations appealing and inviting. As a matter of fact, one can easily note more people checking the products displayed on these displays. While these customers may not buy the products at that particular time, they may come to buy it in future, given that they are aware of the product, the price and use (Lane & Schary, 1991). The design of the store leaves wide aisles between shelves which allow customers to easily push their shopping carts as they collect the goods that they require. Spacious aisles make the store desirable especially for shoppers with children because they can easily move around without blocking the way for other shoppers. Staircases are broad and moderately steep which gives customers comfort during their shopping experience at the store. Accordingly, they are able to explore all areas of the store in search of what they desire to buy.
The customer care service at this Wal-Mart store is excellent. Service attendants are very friendly and willing to assist shoppers with whatever information they need. You will even find customer service representatives whose sole responsibility is to ensure that customers are okay and that they are not encountering any challenges such as lack of information on price, quality and availability of products stocked at the store. There is a customer care representative at proximities of less than 3 meters such that any queries and assistance required by the customers can be provided as quickly as possible. Interestingly, these customer care representatives are well conversant with the store’s products such that they are very efficient in helping customers.
Critique of the retail mix
The retail mix at the Wal-Mart retail enterprise can be described as moderately effective in promoting the store to potential customers. The enterprise however enjoys a large number of customers due to its proximity and cheaper goods. Being near two junctions the enterprise is bound to attract many customers passing through the adjoining roads (Covin et al, 2007). The low prices could also attract a large number of customers especially those who are doing bulk shopping (Audretsch & Thurik, 2007). They may prefer to shop here in order to save some cash. Moreover, the enterprise has invested in a big building that allows for a spacious design thus avoiding congestion at the store. This is highly favorable to people with children as it provides free space for movement. This factor is likely to encourage repeat customers due to the convenience and is therefore a major strength for the enterprise. Another major strength of the retail enterprise is its customer care. As noted by Audretsch and Thurik (2007) customers like to feel appreciated and are more likely to come back if they are treated well. The manner in which customers are treated at this retail outlet is excellent and it could play a significant role in increasing the number of customers. It is an effective strategy and is generally considered a recipe for success (Nattermann, 2000)
Despite the strengths in the store’s retail mix, a few undesirable traits and areas that need improvement are notable. Firstly, the fact that the enterprise doe not stock a wide range of products in each category limits customers’ choice. This could highly impact on its marketability by driving customers to competitors as they seek to obtain a wider selection (Grunig, 2007). Such an occurrence would then affect the enterprise’s profit potential. An important observation to note is that the enterprise has not embraced modern methods of promotion fully including the internet and the use of branded items. While TV and newspapers are a good way of advertising as they are likely to reach more people, the internet is becoming increasingly popular and more people are likely to see advertisements hence the need to venture into it (Morrison, 2008).
The exceptional market care strategy used at the retail enterprise is quite effective in encouraging repeat customers. Care must however be taken to ensure that employees’ efficiency among employees is encouraged through promoting motivation. This can be done by ensuring fair remuneration, reasonable working hours, fair promotion practices and provision of fringe benefits such as insurance and retirement benefits for the employees (Effron, Gandossy & Goldsmith, 2003; Ferris, Rosen & Barnum, 1995). Notably, employees are likely to perform better if they are comfortable with their work and when they believe that their employer is concerned about their welfare (Ferris, Rosen & Barnum, 1995). As a result, they will continue providing customers with ideal service and thus lead to the popularity of the enterprise.
The internet provides a perfect advertising media for companies that desire to reach a wide audience (Hill, 2008). This is a marketing strategy that the retail enterprise could adopt. The approach to take would be to establish a website where products sold at the retail enterprise can be listed indicating their prices and any discounts that are being given. In order to attract more traffic to the site, the enterprise should aim at putting their links in websites with information about certain goods. For example, a link placed on a page explaining the medicinal value of natural juice can link the user to the retail store’s selection of natural juices thus attracting customers.
The retail enterprise needs to improve the range of selection across product categories. Notably, the store seems to favor products from certain companies such that other brands that people would be interested in are not available at the store. The enterprise must realize that people have different needs and hence aims at satisfying them (Pettigrew & Thomas, Whittington, 2002). The process of determining the kind of products to stock should start with a market research in order to establish which products are popular and whether they could increase sales at the retail shop (Hill, 2008; Morrison, 2008). Such items should then be incorporated in the store’s selection.
It is important for the Wal-Mart outlet to keep in mind that the market is very competitive and that the management should continually come up with more innovative strategies in enlarging their market (Covin et al, 2000; Grunig, 2007). Further, customer needs are highly dynamic yet businesses must strive to keep the customers satisfied (Hill, 2008). This should be done through continuous research of customer needs in the market and through evaluation of strategies adopted by competitors (Morrisson, 2008; Zoltan, 1998). An example of an innovative strategy would be the introduction of internet shopping for their clients so as to save their time while reducing potential congestion at the store (Grunig, 2007). Goods can then be delivered to customers through a service van.
The findings of this research clearly indicate that the Wal-Mart retail outlet on Regent Avenue W, Winnipeg is highly committed in designing a retail mix that will increase its market coverage. The retail enterprise’s main strengths include a streamlined customer care service, large and spacious shopping store, wide variety of goods and proper vicinity in terms of location. The pricing at the enterprise also makes it a convenient place for shoppers such that its customer base is expected to keep rising. Similarly, there are shortcomings in the retail mix; mostly in the merchandise assortment and the slow pace in adopting modern methods of advertising. If these are mitigated, the enterprise is likely to perform better and attract a wider range of customers. Future strategies by the company should therefore include a plan to expand the range of selection in each category of goods, incorporate the internet as a method of advertising the outlet’s products and also continually improve its customer care tradition through employee motivation.