Marketing Retail Store Visit Evaluation Criteria

Marketing Retail Store Visit


Evaluation Criteria

Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world and includes several different retail formats: discount stores, supercenters, neighbourhood markets or Sam’s Club. The visit was made at one of the numerous discount stores, operating on an average surface of 100,000 square feet, in the city’s outskirts. The location was picked so as to benefit from a wider parking area and to increase the number of potential customers for the store. The Internet was not necessarily a key factor in promotion and sales strategies, but the shop did benefit from the general Wal-Mart approach to e-shopping, including online shopping at the capacity to track one’s orders online. One of the main characteristic of any Wal-Mart store is the ability to deliver a wide range of merchandise at a consistently low price. Discount retailing was the main function of the visited store. In this sense, the targeted market segment resided mainly, in terms of revenue, on the category of consumers with incomes up to $60,000 a year. Generally, the targeted category of consumers included middle-aged individuals (age perspective), with a high school degree (educational perspective). The unique competitive positioning of the store is based on the company’s uniqueness: the ability to offer low-priced quality without prejudicing customer satisfaction.

2. Products/Merchandise

The store includes a varied range of merchandise, such as garden items, automotive-related products, electronics and computer systems, home furnishings, family apparel and sporting goods. The quality of products has been influenced by the tendency to provide most of the store’s supply from China, where the labor costs are much lower than in the U.S. Nevertheless, a decrease in product quality due to an increased emphasis on price influence has been noticed. In this sense, the examined store has chosen to provide, first of all, its consumers with low-priced products and concern itself with quality later. As any Wal-Mart store, the analyzed store has chosen to offer “generic brands,” cheaper alternatives to name brand products. This has concluded with good results on the targeted market segment.

3. Pricing

Wal-Mart stores have spread the idea of managing to offer high quality-high priced products. As previously shown, this is rather impossible in the competitive economic environment of today. The Wal-Mart store has decided to choose a low-priced – medium/low quality policy instead, opting for heavy Chinese supplying. For the targeted market segment, this is a policy that may have significant chances of success in the future as well.

4. Promotion/Presentation

The store relies greatly on the actual presentation of merchandise within the store rather than on getting to know store brands to other customers. As such, the Wal-Mart store boasted wide aisles, allowing for the larger carriers to get around, as well as a good lighting of products on the shelf. The products were arranged on the shelf with the most advantageous ones at eye-level. Special sales were generously marked, both in the brochure found at the entrance of the store and inside the store itself, with red markings shown on yellow boards.

5. Service

In terms of service, the Wal-Mart store could boast well-intended personnel, aiming rather to help the consumer than to make him induce a purchase. At least two members of the staff were available on each of the separate aisles and provided information when requested, showing good training in the department they had been specialized. Recommendations were generally designed for the best necessity of the customer and the presence of the staff was discreet enough.


1. Evaluation Criteria

Target is considered to be the second largest discount retailer in the U.S., behind Wal-Mart, Wal-Mart’s main competitor on the low priced market segment. Target operated several types of stores, including ‘target stores’, ‘target greatland’ and ‘supertarget’. In order to comparatively match the Wal-Mart store choice, the visited store was a ‘target store’. With an approximated surface of 100,000 square feet, the store is placed in an urban area, on several floors, facilitated by a special escalator used to transport shopping carts between the different levels. The targeted consumer is situated in the upper $55,000-$70,000 income segment and the explanation for this is mainly in terms of the offered merchandise, differentiated from Wal-Mart’s in terms of quality and presentation (see below).

2. Products/Merchandise

The target store included various types of merchandise, such as electronics, music and video (DVDs and CDs), beauty products, clothing and shoes and automotive parts.

Additionally, the target stores also included a food department, mainly with non-perishable items. There are two main factors differentiating the target store from the Wal-Mart store previously analyzed, in terms of products. First of all, the Wal-Mart store did not have a food department, residing only on non-food items. On the other hand, the quality and especially the image of the products offered in the target store may be considered superior to that of Wal-Mart’s. One of the relevant examples in this sense is the fact that the target store is relying consistently on brand strategy, signing important designers like Liz Lange, for example. With a solid discount component aimed at lower income categories, the store had the capacity to attract consumers from higher income segments as well.

3. Pricing

The store could be included in the low/medium price-medium/high quality segment. The reasons for this are closely associated with those previously discussed. As such, while offering discount products to its consumers, the store aims to be a little more and turn itself into a department store, with the ability to provide high quality merchandise when necessary. This can be especially noticed in terms of shoes and clothing, but also in terms of jewelry.

4. Promotion/Presentation

The accent laid on the store’s image is noticeable in terms of product presentation and general store organization. The aisles are wider than at the Wal-Mart store, with a general better product presentation. The image of nearness to class that the store has been aiming to promote is relevantly pointed out by the fact that many refer to it with a French accent. Image is thus important to promote a positioning of the store elsewhere than strictly in the discount store segment.

5. Service

Basically, there is no differentiation in terms of service between the two stores that have been visited. The availability and capacity to provide useful information when asked, as well as proper training, was a fact for the Target employees as well.

Overall Evaluation and Conclusion

First of all, it is important to note that the two stores share part of the targeted segment of consumers, individuals with average income levels. On the other hand, Target stores have widened their perspective and included a certain diversification by operating with well-known designers and being involved in brand and image promotion. This may prove a significant advantage for Target stores in the future, as it can base its operations on a wider, more solid segment of consumers, capable of providing not only higher revenues, but better responses in cases of economic recessions.

Nevertheless, there have been signs that Wal-Mart has been adopting some of the methods used by Target. It is less likely that these will bring consistent changes to the actual operating capacities at Wal-Mart. Wal-Mart has been a company that has aimed nothing more than being a discount store for the last 40 years and it is difficult to change that now. Distinct and increased involvement with China and cheap Chinese labor come to show that Wal-Mart will stick to its winning policy in the short run.

We are thus dealing here with a challenge between low priced policies (Wal-Mart) and low priced with a twist (Target). While Wal-Mart has the advantage of having a consolidated set of consumers, Target will benefit in the future from its ability to build upon a larger base of consumers.


1. Wikipedia – the free encyclopedia at

2. The Wal-Mart website at

3. The Target website at

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