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PC Parts and Wal-Mart? No Match

By Evan Schuman  |  Print this article Print
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Opinion: The world's largest retailer wants to attract more customers, and it sees selling computer parts as one way. But it shows a lack of understanding of how people buy technology.

When Wal-Mart moves into any new area, it spreads fear into the hearts of retailers, who see any move by the $312 billion store chain as inherently dangerous.

But Wal-Mart's recent effort to move more aggressively into the computer business is unlikely to merit panic. It will still cause a lot of it, but it won't be merited.

Wal-Mart's computer move is initially playing itself out in two customized ways: selling computer parts, so that customers can purchase CPUs, monitors and keyboards and create their own desktop; and selling assembled computers that do not have any operating systems.

The second move would have been more compelling if it were positioned as an altruistic humanistic position. Maybe an ad campaign that says something like, "Because of our immense respect for our customers, we could no longer bear to inflict a Microsoft OS on them. If they do it to themselves, we'll sleep better. We prefer to torment our customers in other ways."

Alas, the OS-less PCs are positioned for flexibility and cost-effectiveness. The risk to Wal-Mart is that some customers may not realize that they are buying PCs that won't work without additional purchases.

Read the rest of this eWEEK story: "PC Parts and Wal-Mart? No Match"

 
 
 
 
Evan Schuman is the editor of CIOInsight.com's Retail industry center. He has covered retail technology issues since 1988 for Ziff-Davis, CMP Media, IDG, Penton, Lebhar-Friedman, VNU, BusinessWeek, Business 2.0 and United Press International, among others. He can be reached by e-mail at Evan.Schuman@ziffdavisenterprise.com.
 
 
 
 
 

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