Some of you are scratching your head and wondering how Wal-Mart could be seen as a “technology retailer” for small businesses. With the loss of Circuit City there are not too many national retailers selling technology, in particular technology for small businesses and SOHO users.
The battle is going to be between Best Buy, Staples and Wal-Mart.
Knowledge @ Wharton writes Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is using its dominance in the global marketplace across all retail categories to position itself as the low-price option in consumer electronics. The chain also has massive reach with consumers. More than 800 million people a year visit a Wal-Mart store to buy everything from groceries to sweatpants to gasoline. In what’s seen as an attempt to compete with Best Buy, the chain is adding a new emphasis on electronics, including big-screen televisions and Apple iPods.
For smart small business owners, I don’t think low price alone is enough to court them to Wal-Mart.
Best Buy and Staples advantage is that they have staff trained in technology and the inventory of retail products geared towards small businesses.
If you want to buy a toaster or TV – Wal-Mart is definitely a place you should look, but when it’s time to buy a router, scanner or multi-function printer you should consider Best Buy or Staples. If you know what you are buying and Wal-Mart has what you need at a cheaper price, go for Wal-Mart. But if you are NOT sure what you are buying and do not consider yourself technical adept, let Best Buy and Staples professionals help you.
Keep in mind that even with a retailer professional helping you, this does not mean you’ll have the right product. Just like getting gas from a gas station attendant – some are real nice and some are not. In the same way, being helped by a technology expert who has 1 year of experience is much different than being helped by an expert who has 10 years of experience helping small businesses and who on the weekends plays with his network not with a Frisbee.
Keep in mind that Amazon.com, CDW (much more than Amazon) and other online retailers are also contenders. Although CDW does not have retail stores they have a broad and aggressively priced selection of products and have account managers who act as personal technology concierges for businesses.