Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Wal-Mart, Amazon Battle For Online Retail's Future

kdawson posted more than 4 years ago | from the bezos-versus-golaith dept.

Businesses 272

Hugh Pickens writes "The NY Times reports that Amazon and Wal-Mart are waging a price war for the future of online retailing that is spreading through product areas like books, movies, toys, and electronics. The tussle began last month over which company had the lowest prices on the most anticipated new books and DVDs this fall, but has now spread to select video game consoles, mobile phones, even to the humble Easy-Bake Oven. 'It's not about the prices of books and movies anymore. There is a bigger battle being fought,' said Fiona Dias, executive vice president at GSI Commerce, which manages the Web sites of large retailers. 'The price-sniping by Wal-Mart is part of a greater strategic plan. They are just not going to cede their business to Amazon.' Wal-Mart, with $405 billion in sales last year, dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America in its 4,000 stores, while Amazon, with $20 billion in sales, caters mostly to affluent urbanites who would rather not push around a cart. But Amazon is expanding its slice of the retail pie at an alarming rate — its sales shot up 28 percent in the third quarter of this year; and sales in Amazon's electronics and general merchandise business are up 44 percent. 'We have to put our foot down and refuse to let them grow more powerful,' says Dias. 'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.'"

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

I hope they don't sell Linux. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216718)

There are some consequences [trollaxor.com] .

Re:I hope they don't sell Linux. (1)

artemis67 (93453) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217318)

Could a PeopleOfLinux.com website be far behind?

Re: Products (5, Informative)

eldavojohn (898314) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216724)

Last Wednesday, Wal-Mart dropped the price of the oven to $17, from $28, as part of its "Black Friday" deals. Later the same day, Amazon cut its price, which had also been $28, to $18.

Well, color me confused, I see it as $18 on both Walmart's [walmart.com] and Amazon's [amazon.com] site.

It began last month with what appeared to be a public-relations-oriented competition on book prices, with both companies (along with Target, based in Minneapolis) dropping prices on books like "Under the Dome," by Stephen King, to below $9.

What? Walmart: $14.49 [walmart.com] Amazon: $14.50 [amazon.com]

Don't get me wrong, this is great news for consumers but I think you're just seeing preperation for a Black Friday feeding frenzy and not actual 'price wars.'

'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.'

Wal-Mart stays away from heavily populated areas and makes most of its bank from the heartland anyway. I actually see this as Wal-Mart trying to steal a piece of the online pie if it isn't just a little bit of good ole capitalistic competition. If you think Wal-Mart's been losing business, their stock sure isn't showing it [google.com] .

Re: Products (2, Insightful)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216820)

What? Walmart: $14.49 [walmart.com] Amazon: $14.50 [amazon.com]

The cited prices applied at the book's release. They've gone up in the intervening month.

Re: Products (4, Informative)

Beardo the Bearded (321478) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216938)

You think that's bad? Try being in Canada. It's like a whole other country. ;) For most stores, the online policy is "you should order lube too, because Customs is going to ream you with a cheese grater".

Add 12% tax, $5 customs handling, $45 brokerage, ~$20 shipping, and 6% duty onto just about anything you buy from the US online. Then wait 4-6 weeks for the item to arrive.

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217106)

Or, since 90% of Canadians live within an hour or so of the border, have it shipped to a package holder -- which ranges from $5 for a small package to $25 for something the size of a refrigerator -- pick it up, unpackage the item, and run it undeclared through customs.

With the exception of holiday sales (like Black Friday, where they take apart vehicles like fiends), customs usually couldn't care less about items totalling under $1000, as long as that doesn't include the evil trilogy of alcohol, tobacco or firearms.

Re: Products (3, Informative)

Abstrackt (609015) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217700)

I do a lot of cross-border pickups, both for myself and for work, and can tell you that they do start to care if they see you often enough. They do get a good laugh out of what you would have paid for it here in Canada though.

Getting in is easy, just tell them you're driving across to save yourself the ridiculous shipping and brokerage fees. As for getting out, just tell them where you were, show them the invoice, sign the form, pay the bill and off you go. Bonus points if you drive across with an empty tank and fill up on cheap gas while you're down there.

If you're in or near Winnipeg, Connie's Depot in Walhalla, ND charges $5 (USD or CAD) for small packages and $15 per pallet. There's also a gas station half a block south so you can get the aforementioned cheap gas.

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217144)

> Add 12% tax, $5 customs handling, $45 brokerage, ~$20 shipping, and 6% duty onto just about anything you buy from the US online. Then wait 4-6 weeks for the item to arrive

I'm just speaking as a dumb 'merican here, but WTF is "brokerage"? Down here that's a financial firm who helps you buy and sell stocks.

Anyway, maybe you just need a friend in the states who can order stuff for you without all that overhead, and then send it up for $8 postage/UPS/Fedex/whatever. Seems like that should be both faster and cheaper, no? I've sent packages from the US to Canada before and the postage was a bit more than domestic, but it wasn't outrageous, and they got there much faster than 4 weeks!

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217300)

Try googling "ups brokerage fees" and you will see a very sad story. Here is example from first hit http://forums.ebay.ca/topic/Bidding-And-Buying/50-Ups-Brokerage/600012557

Re: Products (1)

snspdaarf (1314399) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217508)

Customs brokerage. A company that handles the ugly part of the import/export business, the dealing with the government part.

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217198)

Stop using "UPS Ground" for the shipping and you should be able to eliminate the brokerage fees. UPS are evil like that. Their faster/better services are just a tiny bit more expensive (UPS Express?) and are supposed to exclude this fee (last time I didn't have any).

Or, you know, just say "fuck UPS" and go with another carrier if possible.

Re: Products (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217218)

Ahhh. You must have used UPS. Pretty much everyone I know here (Ontario) avoids them for cross border shipping. They hit you with a tonne of hidden and unexpected charges and I know people who have been burnt really bad by this (ended up paying more than just buying it retail here)

Re: Products (5, Funny)

amilo100 (1345883) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217392)

Add 12% tax, $5 customs handling, $45 brokerage, ~$20 shipping, and 6% duty onto just about anything you buy from the US online.

I was under the impression that Canadians liked paying taxes.

Re: Products (3, Funny)

rrwood (27261) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217570)

I was under the impression that Canadians liked paying taxes.

Well played, my American friend. :-)

Signed, A Canadian, eh

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217664)

And you thinks that's bad!!!!???

Try being in Mexico where people make ~$1600 USD *annually* and you have to add 16% tax, ~$100 shipping and ~$1,000 monthly for protection from Goverments' terrorists (like Fidel Herrera's Zethas).

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217008)

Walmart stays away from heavily populated areas? You mean that cities like San Francisco won't let them in, right? Because WalMart is all over the heavily populated San Francisco Bay Area of California - just not in the places that won't allow "big box stores" like Costco, WalMart, etc.

Re: Products (3, Insightful)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217226)

Well, color me confused, I see it as $18 on both Walmart's and Amazon's site.

What? Walmart: $14.49 Amazon: $14.50

Don't get me wrong, this is great news for consumers but I think you're just seeing preperation for a Black Friday feeding frenzy and not actual 'price wars.'

Prices have since changed, so the prices you've found don't reflect historical pricing. As for the "Black Friday feeding frenzy" vs. price wars... those aren't mutually exclusive. Periods of high sales volume are when it's most important to be able to adjust prices relevant to competition -- especially if engaged in a price war to capture volume.

Wal-Mart stays away from heavily populated areas and makes most of its bank from the heartland anyway.

Hah. How many Walmarts are there in NJ, the nation's most densely populated state? Lots. How about the San Francisco Bay area, as another poster pointed out?

At any rate, it is competition. What cracks me up is that someone siding with Walmart is claiming that Amazon is trying to drive B&M shops out of existence, and Walmart must defend B&M retail outlets against the predations of Amazon. Seems to me that Amazon is playing the same game Walmart played that drove all the traditional retailers out of business... giving customers lower prices due to reduced overhead.

Re: Products (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217288)

Here is a gotcha. If you live in certain states that don't tax online purchases and can wait it is always cheaper to buy online. Of course some of us internet users already knew that. I almost always buy online unless I need it right away. The only issue I have with Amazon is if you buy from one of their preferred vendors but not Amazon themselves the shipment takes forever usually to get. I bought something recently and it was supposed to be 3 to 5 days and it turned out to be closer to 12 days before I received it. So if you buy on Amazon.com expect delays sometimes and purchase accordingly.

Re: Products (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217366)

Their stock [yahoo.com] seems pretty flat to me. Especially when you compare it to Amazon's.

Re: Products (3, Interesting)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217626)

Let's see if they lower the price on Apple products.

Amazon has one advantage (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216726)

Amazon has one distinct advantage: I will never buy anything from Walmart. That doesn't necessarily mean I will buy it from them instead, but at least I'm more likely to.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216808)

You can go ahead and just pay more for the same thing. I don't mind.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (4, Informative)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217294)

You can go ahead and just pay more for the same thing. I don't mind.

Except a lot of times it's not the same thing. Walmart is large enough that they can convince (read: coerce) manufacturers to making Walmart Edition versions of mainstream items. Walmart isn't the first to do this, but IS the first to do this with huge players like Whirlpool and Sony. No doubt this is because the big players can effectively be shut out of the lower middle class market by Walmart marketing the off-brands. It's a game of join the devil or die. I laugh when I see a Walmart commercial with the "Same Brands, Better Prices" theme. It's somewhat ironic that these companies that so closely guard their brand names to exploit brand recognition to imply quality are willing to undercut themselves just to get shelf space in one of the most powerful retailers in the country.

Now, those retail-specific models? You might have encountered them when trying to comparison shop and the model number you picked up from a Walmart placard cannot be found online or at other shops. Sometimes they differ by minor things: a lesser warranty or using factory-second plastic castings with a little more excess flash or slightly mismatched colors. Sometimes they differ by major things: lower class LCD panel with more permitted dead pixels or appliances with lower MTBF or lower tolerance components. A savings of pennies for a handful of resistors could mean the difference between shipping 50,000 units to Walmart or not.

That said, Amazon does it too, but for a much more customer-positive purpose. "Frustration-Free Packaging" takes manufacturer cooperation and requires them to make stuff for Amazon but it's not about presenting a false economy.

I know which company I'd rather give my money too, even if it happens to be a dollar or two more.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217564)

This is really the exception and not the rule. A overwhelming majority of the items you buy at Wal-mart are the exactly same as what you would buy at any other retailers. Especially for big purchases you should be researching based on model number and can tell that Wal-Mart is selling a different model. Either way if you refuse to shop at Wal-Mart then only you are losing. Overall, I know I am getting a better price at Walmart just by their revenue statistics. Look at them compared to any other Brick and Mortar retailer and their profit to revenue ratio is going to be the lowest. This means less of my money is going into Wal-Mart shareholder pockets and towards the manufacturer.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (2, Informative)

ISoldat53 (977164) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217668)

Sony's been doing this for years. They put the retailer's label on the same products various retailer sell each with a separate model number. When you go to look up a part number it will list several model numbers that it works on.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217476)

You can go ahead and support the race to the bottom. I don't mind.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217728)

So, you say that in order to take a stance on what I believe in, I might need to sacrifice something? Shocking! Who knew that having principles could be so darned inconvenient? Guess I'll just have to give up trying to be a good person.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (1)

billcopc (196330) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216968)

Amen, brother! Wal-Mart is a heavyweight player in this so-called recession.

Re:Amazon has one advantage (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217492)

That's funny, I buy as much as possible from WalMart. I'd buy more, but their online store is terrible. So, Amazon gets my online business especially since NewEgg tried to bait and switch me on free shipping, and WalMart gets a great deal of my brick and mortar.

Stereotypes much? (4, Insightful)

Akido37 (1473009) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216754)

Wal-Mart ... dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America... while Amazon ... caters mostly to affluent urbanites

Because we all know how there are no Wal-Marts along the East or West Coasts, and those backward "middle Americans" don't have the Internet.

Re:Stereotypes much? (4, Funny)

castorvx (1424163) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216804)

Excuse me, I believe those middle America shoppers are called Real Americans. People these days.

Re:Stereotypes much? (1)

x3rc3s (954149) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216876)

Oh, if only...

Re:Stereotypes much? (2, Informative)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216886)

I can't tell if you missed the meaning of Middle America meaning Middle Class, or if it was part of your joke.

Either way, I'm sure there ARE more Wal-marts in the middle of the states, since the coasts are mostly made up of Starbucks.

Re:Stereotypes much? (1)

Pojut (1027544) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217592)

I live in Maryland, about 30 minutes outside of DC, and there are 4 Wal-Marts within 20 minutes of my house.

Re:Stereotypes much? (1)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217750)

How many Coffee Shops though?

Re:Stereotypes much? (1)

raeljds (660311) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216930)

sometimes i get so darned frustrated with load times over the cans-and-strings internet here in KC!

Re:Stereotypes much? (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216952)

There's a difference between stereotypes and demographics you know; it isn't as if Amazon goes around saying "Yes it's cheap, but will it get them off their tractors?". It is a fact that Walmart has focused their efforts on rural areas, only very recently moving into major cities agressively. It's also a fact that Amazon's business model works slightly better for urbanites who recieve shipments faster (in Milwaukee shipments would arrive in 2-3 days with free shipping, rural Iowa it's more like 8-10 days), are more likely to have high speed internet, and are less likely to be served by a walmart/target type discount store.

Re:Stereotypes much? (4, Informative)

IANAAC (692242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217306)

It is a fact that Walmart has focused their efforts on rural areas, only very recently moving into major cities agressively. It's also a fact that Amazon's business model works slightly better for urbanites who recieve shipments faster (in Milwaukee shipments would arrive in 2-3 days with free shipping, rural Iowa it's more like 8-10 days), are more likely to have high speed internet, and are less likely to be served by a walmart/target type discount store.

The SF bay area and LA had both Walmart and Target long before rural Wisconsin did (even though Target is a MPLS-based company). Come to think of it, so did Chicago. Walmart has never "focused on rural areas", rather, they've set up shop where they believe they'll make the most money. Urban/rural has nothing to do with it.

Re:Stereotypes much? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217478)

And the answer is:

http://www.walmartstoremap.com/

Re:Stereotypes much? (2, Interesting)

f97tosc (578893) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217582)

Wal-Mart ... dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America... while Amazon ... caters mostly to affluent urbanites

Because we all know how there are no Wal-Marts along the East or West Coasts, and those backward "middle Americans" don't have the Internet.

The words you yourself are quoting literally say "dominates by" and "mostly". Why is it that you can't make perfectly accurate demographic statements without somebody feeling the need to refute claims about "all" and "no" which have never been made? It is a good thing not to attribute a demographic average to every member of the group, but rejecting the average trend itself is just silly, and not insightful at all.

A one minute search on google revealed this paper that shows negative income elasticity for Wal-Mart shoppers. I would be shocked if further search would not give more statistical support to the orginal claim.

http://economics.missouri.edu/working-papers/2008/WP0805_basker.pdf [missouri.edu]

Re:Stereotypes much? (2, Interesting)

ChaosDiscord (4913) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217632)

Well, to be fair, the real reason I avoid Wal-Mart (yet strangely continue going to Target and a host of other stores) is that I dislike pushing shopping carts. It also can't possibly have anything to do with having a wider selection online, including higher quality and more durable products.

Dear original post author: if I want clueless stereotypes I know where to find Thomas Friedman.

Re:Stereotypes much? (1)

Chees0rz (1194661) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217716)

Because we all know how there are no Wal-Marts along the East or West Coasts, and those backward "middle Americans" don't have the Internet.

I believe 'Middle America' refers to social/economic classes... not locality...

We all win (4, Insightful)

esocid (946821) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216758)

For now, until one of them cedes, or make a competitive deal, even those of us who avoid Wally World like the plague. Then we all lose, but for now I'm at least entertained seeing Walmart with an adversary.

No way Walmart (5, Insightful)

losman (840619) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216782)

Fast shipping. Great customer service. Better prices. And most importantly there are better/quality reviews on Amazon. Sorry Walmart... and btw even locally I would go to Target instead of Walmart.

Re:No way Walmart (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216912)

I read the reviews on Amazon and buy elsewhere all the time, and then review on Amazon. Among other things, I noticed Target was $20 more expensive on Sonicare toothbrushes - Target loves you. Although I happen to have a Wal-Mart and a Target on the same road.

Re:No way Walmart (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217018)

I have both Target stores and Walmart close by. How many times have I walked into a Walmart? Twice. I shop at Target all the time. Target generally has good prices, though I'm sure there are occasions when I could get the same thing from Walmart for a bit less. I'm not bothered by that, really.

Walmart not as well-run as believed... (1)

Black-Man (198831) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217166)

I wouldn't step foot in a Walmart where I live. Crowded... cluttered aisles... dirty. But a place I visit in WV where the Walmart has no competition... its clean, very organized and very Target-like. It seems when they get serious about their business, they do fine. I would be worried if I was Amazon.

Re:Walmart not as well-run as believed... (1)

StormyWeather (543593) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217240)

That's mainly due to the manager, and the region. My town has 4 wal-mart super centers. The ones in the nice part of town are clean, and they don't bother you at the doors. In the worse part of town they are dirty, and they check everything in your cart on the way out. I was installing some register equipment there once, and was talking to the manager, and he said that he had managed two of the other wal-marts, and that at the worse off neighborhood they actually spent almost twice the amount on maintenance and groundskeeping, the people were just more likely to drop things they didn't want on the ground instead of putting them back on the shelf, and more likely to throw bags on the ground next to their car instead of walking back to put them in a trash bin.

Re:Walmart not as well-run as believed... (1)

KermodeBear (738243) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217552)

And that is precisely why feel-good projects that "clean up the bad neighborhood" never work in the long term. Sure, you can head to the poor parts of town, pick up the trash, paint a few houses, whatever, that's very nice and I'm sure that it give people a warm fuzzy feeling... But ultimately, unless the people who live there put in the (minimal) effort to keep up after themselves, it will just go back to the way it was.

Re:Walmart not as well-run as believed... (1)

Eponymous Coward (6097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217726)

There's some odd psychology at play when it comes to trash and littering. I used to live in Portland, OR and while I was there, I read that the city had removed trash cans from the city-owned parking garages. They found that actually reduced the amount of litter in and around the parking structures.

Re:No way Walmart (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217264)

I assume that when you mean "better/quality reviews", you are not talking about DVD/Blu-rays on Amazon. Every movie I ever went pre-order has tons of reviews for a product that does not even exist yet. Yeah the movie might have been great in the theaters, but does that mean the DVD/Blu-ray will be. What if there is a defect in the DVD when released, what if the compression sucks, what if the sound isn't right, etc...Amazon DVD/Blu-ray reviews are mostly useless.

Amazon Prime (5, Interesting)

Brad Mace (624801) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217274)

don't forget Amazon Prime. $80/yr for free 2-day shipping? That's a guaranteed money-loser for them. And I'm shocked by what they include in that offer. They've sent me all sorts of heavy and bulky items including a 70-pound air compressor and a storage cabinet that was about 4'x4'x3', all free 2-day shipping. Beats driving to the store any day. It also gets you upgrades to overnight shipping for $3.99, so unless you absolutely must have it this instant, online shopping wins.

Re:Amazon Prime (3, Insightful)

Achromatic1978 (916097) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217470)

It also gets you upgrades to overnight shipping for $3.99, so unless you absolutely must have it this instant, online shopping wins.

And they are now trialling $6.99 same day shipping in select cities, order before 11am and have it by the end of the day.

Re:No way Walmart (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217636)

You mean better fake quality reviews. Everyone knows that there are no real quality reviews on the net. Just as there are no real girls or facts on it. ^^

Great... we'll rue the day BuyNLarge.com wins! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216784)

This just means that, if Wal-Mart wins this battle, we can look forward to a future where their BuyNLarge conglomerate really does own everything and operates with complete impunity.

C'mon, $400 billion vs. $20 billion? How is that not an antitrust actionable item even in the averse United States.

Re:Great... we'll rue the day BuyNLarge.com wins! (2, Funny)

Chaos Incarnate (772793) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216840)

If that's the price I have to pay to get a pet WALL*E, so be it.

not really (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216824)

if (!NeedItToday && WillingToBuySightUnseen && WillingToRiskShippingDamageOrDelay)
  BuyFromAmazon();
else
  BuyFromWalmart();

Re:not really (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216922)

Most. Insightful. Post. Ever.

Although many times you can examine the product somewhere else before buying it through Amazon.

Re:not really (1)

sucati (611768) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217706)

really? I'm impatient so I can get a macbook pro from walmart? sony xbr tv? [insert million other items walmart doesn't carry]. if (needmotoroil || wiperblades || cheaphouseholditem) buywalmart(); else buyonline();

Welcome to the new economy (5, Insightful)

colmore (56499) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216826)

Remember all those quirky startups? That was a dead end. The new economy is 3 or 4 giant retailers selling everything.

Huzzah!

Re:Welcome to the new economy (1)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216932)

What do you think we should do about this?

Re:Welcome to the new economy (1)

megamerican (1073936) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216960)

A large percentage of my purchases at Amazon are from independent resellers. Ebay, Craigslist, Amazon are great portals for "start ups." The internet has changed the way business is done. If you can't adapt then you die. That's the way it has always worked.

considering the arcane state of tax laws, (4, Insightful)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216978)

let alone laws governing what can and cannot be shipped to where it is pretty easy to understand that one of the biggest hurdles of establishing a new business is government.

I code for distribution systems myself and the complexity of where items can go, the taxes on each per locale, and even how they must be transported, are mind boggling. Too many times competition includes fighting local governments who seem to find ways to create fines based on that day's interpretation of a law

Re:Welcome to the new economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30216992)

Taken to its logical conclusion, capitalism is nearly identical to soviet-era communism. In both systems you inevitably end up with a small elite of wealthy individuals owning all the capital and making all the profit, while squeezing the middle and lower classes into oblivion.

Re:Welcome to the new economy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217210)

"Remember all those quirky startups?"

Note that you remember the quirks more than any business model.

Sales Tax (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216842)

The 9.25% sales tax that I pay through wal-mart.com makes Amazon with shipping the same price, though less on more expensive items. Wal-mart.com takes over a week for site-to-store and Amazon takes only 2 days. Which would you choose?

Re:Sales Tax (2, Interesting)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217020)

This dovetails nicely with this story Calling BS on Amazon's Taxation Arguments [slashdot.org] if Walmart were to eliminate this provision, then Amazon wouldn't have any advantage.

Re:Sales Tax (2, Insightful)

tabrisnet (722816) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217126)

It would eliminate some of the price advantage, but certainly not the logistics advantage. I still shop at Newegg, despite the fact that I pay sales-tax, vs say other vendors like Provantage. Why? because newegg can get it here in ~2 days, while other places like Provantage or GearXS will take a week.

Re:Sales Tax (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217624)

I believe if Walmart wanted to, they could either offer postal deliver (within 2 days) or even home delivery. Their distribution model is second to none, however,they're offering the lower price. This lower price can entice you pick it up at their store, while there you may remember some other things that you wanted to buy.

Re:Sales Tax (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217164)

Nah, I'm safe in California. If some federal judge determines that the Kindle subsidiary's being located here requires Amazon to pay sales tax, then Amazon will uproot the subsidiary. That is the one and only presence they have here. In other news, California's unemployment rate is 12.5%.

Re:Sales Tax (1)

AlexBirch (1137019) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217556)

Thanks for the comment, yet in the article I linked said nothing about the having subsidiaries in each state.
From TFA:

in 2008 New York enacted an innovative law that effectively deems a retailer to have a physical presence within the state when it has independent “affiliate” websites in the state promoting sales on its behalf.

Therefore Amazon in selling to CA (I'm sure they need the money and would pass a similar bill to New York's) would have to collect Sale Tax. What was considered onerous in 1992 may not seem so onerous now.

Re:Sales Tax (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217704)

I don't recall the case, but I believe that the NY law flies in the face of a Supreme Court ruling. This article [cbpp.org] linked in the story specifically discusses California and the Kindle subsidiary.

Re:Sales Tax (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217112)

Not sure what state you live in, but you might want to look into the "use tax" when filing your next return. You're probably responsible for paying that 9.25% even though Amazon isn't collecting it.

"Responsible for paying" and "likely to pay" are admittedly not the same. Use taxes are generally very difficult to enforce, so they pretty much never are enforced. If your state requries it but you don't pay it, you might want to think over the ethics of shifting tax burden around in that way. Depending on what you're buying, maybe you figure it's not enough money to worry about - but in that case, it wouldn't be a decision-maker on which company you shop with, would it?

Re:Sales Tax (1)

MyFirstNameIsPaul (1552283) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217610)

It is not in California's interest to bust every single person not paying use tax in Internet purchases, especially when there's already a minor tax revolt in progress. It's a check box on the tax return and nobody pays it.

Hm, ethical decision-making on paying money to the government... I'll leave that one for members of the Obama administration to respond to, especially the guy who oversees the IRS.

Retail (1)

oldhack (1037484) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216844)

It feels as if the retail sector is the only marketplace in America with vigorous competition. Have we finally become England?

This is a Long Term Fight (3, Insightful)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216852)

At TFA points out, Amazon serves more affluent urban populations that prefer to make their purchases online and thus avoid unnecessary trips to pick up items which can just as well be delivered. Not to mention the fact that many of these wealthier urban dwellers live in higher tax states and in higher cost cities where using Amazon doesn't add sales tax (New York being an notable exception) and the nearest WalMart might be a bit of a drive (assuming that they even own a private vehicle). Amazon also has a sophisticated website and online order fulfillment system, including a strong franchise in intelligent and automated recommendations, which they have built up over many years of successful business and feedback; WalMart is definitely playing catchup here. On the other hand, WalMart practically wrote the book on retail supply chain management (the TFA points out that Amazon has poached talent from WalMart in the past to improve their own supply chain logistics) and has detailed regional knowledge of consumer trends and which items maximize profits and at what prices. Amazon has their affiliate program, but these affiliates are often unable to match the prices offered by WalMart when Amazon itself doesn't stock the items in question. IMHO, in the long run, both companies will continue to be successful and while there will be battles over turf (DVDs, Books, Electronics, etc) there are sufficient differences in consumer preferences to accommodate both business models going forward.

The problem... (1)

Areyoukiddingme (1289470) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216880)

The problem with many corners of the American economy is the idea that the whole thing works like this. Assuming this isn't just a planted story as part of a marketing campaign by the underdog in sales (Amazon), this is an example of how the free market is supposed to work. Competition to attract customers. This is the example we're supposed to look at to see how our cell phone plans are supposed to evolve. Everything is just like retail sales, according to the "free market" deregulation zealots. The older I get, the more convinced I am that retail sales is the only sector like retail sales. Nothing else works that way.

Good? (3, Insightful)

TwoToeWilly (1243566) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216892)

No matter who wins, the money still goes to China.

Re:Good? (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216994)

No matter who wins, the money still goes to China.

I'm sorry, but that's "No matter who wins... we lose."

(*actually, the quote was "whoever wins... we lose [imdb.com] ." So, which one is the predator?

Re:Good? (0, Redundant)

cryfreedomlove (929828) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217118)

So?

Walmart has a website? (2, Insightful)

hoytak (1148181) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216936)

And you can buy stuff on it? brb while I google that.

This current tactic will end badly for Amazon (1)

Shadowruni (929010) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216962)

I don't see this as a pricing war. This is a war on the control of Internet commerce. A war in which Amazon is going to lose if they allow it to be a war of attrition. He who has the larger war chest will win. Hearts and minds sounds great on paper but Walmart can give away stuff and lose a quarter or two and take the stock hit. Amazon can't do that on the same level because of what they sale. The also at as an eBay with no bidding for smaller companies that want a very public web presence but can't afford large scale advertising and shipping logistics overhead. Amazon does that for them. As a comparison Walmart can demand that suppliers use particular technologies (cough-UPC-cough, cough-rfid-cough) or they won't do business with them or levy "handling charges" (read:fines). Who do you think will win *THAT* sort of fight. For Amazon to win, they've got to reach into middle America and sell nicer things at a rate near Walmart's and offer free shipping. To make that work they'd need a VERY good distribution network set up, which Walmart already has, and Walmart has buddy-buddy deals with FedEx and UPS. It'll be a *VERY* bloody battle and the only way I see this working is if Costco and Amazon leverage each other's strengths. Just my two cents though.

Wait, WTF? (5, Insightful)

Arancaytar (966377) | more than 4 years ago | (#30216982)

They are just not going to cede their business to Amazon.' Wal-Mart, with $405 billion in sales last year, dominates by offering affordable prices to Middle America in its 4,000 stores, while Amazon, with $20 billion in sales

'We have to put our foot down and refuse to let them grow more powerful,' says Dias. 'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers stood up and refused to let their business go away.'"

Yes! Down with the Amazon monopoly! Give the underdog with twenty times the annual sales a chance! Preserve competition!

Re:Wait, WTF? (1)

CannonballHead (842625) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217108)

Give the underdog with twenty times the annual sales a chance! Preserve competition!

The question is how much profit, though. Wal-Mart operates a huge number of brick-and-mortar stores. Amazon is completely online...

Wal-Mart probably employs *way* more people, too, so you could even say it's better for the economy ;)

Re:Wait, WTF? (0, Offtopic)

FlyingBishop (1293238) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217202)

No profit in the long run. Both of them are contributing to the collapse of the US economy by exacerbating the already absurd trade 'deficit' with other countries, which really amounts to other nations giving us more than we give them in return, and often without us paying for it.

Re:Wait, WTF? (2, Interesting)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217230)

If you need to take everything into account then Amazon helps the computer vendors, the ISPs and the shipping companies too.

Re:Wait, WTF? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217302)

"Wal-Mart probably employs *way* more people, too, so you could even say it's better for the economy ;)"

Underemployment at wal-mart is NOT better for the economy than the mom & pop shops and even smaller chains it replaced. Not by any means. The profits get leeched out of the community, the products are never made in the US.

Lovely... (3, Funny)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217030)

This is like two pox-ridden whores fighting over which one gets to service the local hockey team. Whoever comes out on top, the only winner is the guy selling condoms, and the only thing certain is that a lot of people are going to get screwed.

Re:Lovely... (1)

Yvan256 (722131) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217244)

It's also a great opportunity for the guy selling screws and screwdrivers!

purveyors of crap (4, Interesting)

kimvette (919543) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217058)

Wal-Mart has been the purveyor of crap for many years now. They push companies close to bankruptcy by insisting that the suppliers' margins be pennies per unit - or they push companies to produce cheaper, crappy Wal-Mart versions of their product with a decent profit margin, but agreeing to do it Wal-Mart's way can ruin your company by tarnishing your reputation. When Joe Sixpack buys your Wal-Mart model TV, your Wal-Mart model computer, or your Wal-Mart lawn mower and the thing turns out to be a piece of crap. Your company's name will be tarnished, and you will get the blame, not Wal-Mart. You might make millions in the short term but over the long term, think about shutting down your company and starting a new one,

Check out the Snapper story (the man who said no to walmart)

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/102/open_snapper.html [fastcompany.com]

I shop at Wal-Mart for some things. I don't buy most appliances there though. I buy underwear, DVDs, and personal care items. Electronics, appliances I want to last for more than six months, and other bigger-ticket items I will buy elsewhere.

Re:purveyors of crap (3, Insightful)

Applekid (993327) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217378)

Your company's name will be tarnished, and you will get the blame, not Wal-Mart.

I'd say the blame belongs where the customer places it. Brand recognition and loyalty goes both ways, and if a company is going to slap a strong name on a piece of garbage just to get on a Walmart shelf then they deserve the erosion.

Oh really? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217130)

Well, if Walmart wants to overtake Amazon and therefore dominate online sales, then a good place to start would be selling unedited CDs. Who wants that edited bullshit? Plenty of other improvements would also have to be made to even approach Amazon IMO, but not censoring everything would be a good first step.

What he meant to say was... (1)

zarmanto (884704) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217136)

'We have to put our foot down and refuse to let them grow more powerful...'

... before they erode our market share beyond repair!

'I applaud Wal-Mart. It's about time multichannel retailers...'

... started hawking their wares at prices closer to what they're really worth!

(I love quotes that just beg for corrections.)

I don't get spammed by WalMart. (1)

John Hasler (414242) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217184)

n/t

Amazon Prime FTW! (1)

TheNarrator (200498) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217208)

I have Amazon Prime so I get free two day shipping on everything and $3.99 overnight shipping. You would be amazed at how heavy an item I can get shipped overnight for $3.99. 2-day and overnight shipping anywhere else seems like a complete ripoff.

Re:Amazon Prime FTW! (1)

jaymz666 (34050) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217484)

It's not free if you are paying $79 a year for it...

Re:Amazon Prime FTW! (1)

suresk (816773) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217654)

Yeah, Prime is pretty sweet. A few months back, I ordered a new telescope on Friday morning and it was there the next morning. The charge for overnight, Saturday delivery? $7. I'm pretty sure that paid for Prime all by itself.

News For (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#30217254)

people who haven't heard about the news for 2 weeks !

Vvverrryyyy oooollllldddd.

In other news: Obama to send troops to Af-pak-raq-istan.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Yours In Volgograd,
Kilgore Trout

Anyone else here hope.. (1)

jhfry (829244) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217444)

that they continue to battle for the lowest price until both of them go broke?

I especially hope to see Walmart suffer a long agonizing death. I live in suburban Detroit, and the amount of vacant retail space that was generated by the growth of Walmart and Meijer is staggering... and I know its much worse in rural towns.

I used to be able to choose from several stores, each with a unique selection of reasonably priced goods, and usually exceptional customer service.

Now I walk a quarter mile to get in the front door, to be greeted by some old lady who probably owned one of the shops that closed and shes still bitter about it, and walk another half mile to get the few things I need, and finally I stand in a long line to pay another bitter minimum wage worker so I can walk back out to my car. In all I probably saved 2-3% over what the old stores would have charged me.

Meanwhile, Walmart has forced its suppliers to cut prices so much that even companies that used to be proud to produce their product with US labor have outsourced it to try and retain some of their profit margin... because without Walmart they don't exist to most consumers anymore.

I am just thankful that there are a couple of smaller grocers, and a few decent malls nearby with stores that are very responsive to their customers. To be in a rural community where its Walmart or nothing would be a form of torture.

Walmart vs. Amazon (3, Interesting)

Anita Coney (648748) | more than 4 years ago | (#30217494)

Amazon does not really have to compete on price. While at worst people might be agnostic towards Amazon, they hate Walmart.

Very few people are going to dump Amazon merely because the Evil Empire's a little cheaper. Buying is more than merely getting a product. The actual buying is but a small part of a larger service.

It's similar to Newegg. Newegg does not always have the lowest prices. But I know they ship the same day so I'll get it quickly and they'll fix any problems if something goes wrong. So if it's tech related, I almost always buy from Newegg. For nearly everything else, I use Amazon.

Load More Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?