Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Customer is the Boss

"There is only one boss.  The customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else." - Sam Walton

If you assume, as I do, that Sam Walton knew what he was talking about regarding business, then that's a quote to take to heart.  And no, I'm not going to use the quote to write another post bashing bookstores over the head.  Well, maybe a little....

...nah.  Too easy these days.  I'll just say--when a customer wants to buy a book, sell him a damn book.  Don't worry about who printed the thing.  Revel instead in the success of satisfying yet another customer's need/desire. 

There, that's off my chest.

And while we're at it--not that I care a whole lot, since neither company is really hurting for market share, but--Walmart, what's up with not carrying Kindles any more?  I mean, honestly, it didn't occur to me to buy the one I own at Walmart anyway.  I go to Walmart to buy Walmart stuff, just like I go to Best Buy to buy computer stuff and bookstores to buy books.  And when I want ebooks and an ebook reader, I go to  That's just how I roll.  Granted, I shop for bargains on eBay--so is Walmart going to stop carrying computers and tablets too because we use those to access a competitor? I don't get the "we're not going to sell this to you because you might use it to buy future stuff from someone else" logic. 

I guess part of me wonders why Walmart would have carried Kindles in the first place; seems to me that the first thought someone would have when deciding to buy a Kindle is "it's an Amazon thing--I should check Amazon."  But they did carry the Kindle, and apparently they did some volume in it.  Which means that somebody, some customer somewhere (knowing Walmart's volume, probably times a few tens of thousands), wanted it and Walmart was able to satisfy those customers' need/desire.  Was able to, anyway.

The article I read from Reuters quoted a "retail analyst" who called the Kindle a "trojan horse" of sorts--apparently the assumption is that people were buying a Kindle in a retail outlet, presumably because they wanted the feel and touch and immediacy of a physical store, and then doing the rest of their shopping online, because--well, suddenly they didn't want all that stuff any more. 

It just doesn't make any sense to me.  Did Walmart forget what Sam Walton said about the customer?


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