Everyone knows Walmart because Walmart is the biggest retailer in the world. You may think you know everything, but there are secrets Walmart doesn’t want you to know anything about. This doesn’t necessarily mean the company is being sneaky; perhaps it just wants to protect its public image?
10. Panic is Good for Business
Walmart was already the major player in brick and mortar retail before the COVID-19 virus spread around the world in the Winter of 2020. With billions of people sheltering in place around the world Walmart has been able to meet the increased demand for shoppers both at its stores and on the Internet. Of course when it comes to online shopping, Amazon controls a big part of the traffic, but among the brick and mortar retailers, big box stores have remained open throughout the pandemic even as countless small businesses, many of them competitors of Walmart, have had to remain closed for weeks or even months. During this period Walmart has seen a big jump in its online sales as many customers try to say home as much as possible. Everything from basics like cleaning products and food to entertainment items like games, puzzles, televisions and DVDs have been flying off the shelves as customers hunker down. The retailer’s online business surged 74% and in-store sales increased by a healthy 10% as well. No matter how you look at it the uncertainty and changes forced on billions of people around the world by the response to the virus has been good for Walmart’s bottom line. This reality may not be a secret exactly, but it is something Walmart would rather you not dwell on too much.
9. Murphy’s Gas Law
In 1996 Murphy Oil Corporation decided it wanted to start selling its gas at its own gas stations. However, when the corporation looked into the proposed endeavor it realized the best way forward would be to partner with an existing retailer. Murphy Oil didn’t go with just any partner though, it went right to the top when it formed a partnership with Walmart. The deal they came up with put Murphy gas station next to Walmart stores making two chores a little easier. Shoppers could conveniently gas up their cars and people just out for some gas could stop in at Walmart to pick up a few last minute items on their way home. This is one of those win – win situations and was especially the case for Walmart. The retailer allows its customers to use Walmart gift cards and Walmart credit cards at Murphy USA stations. However, in 2016 Walmart decided the 20 year partnership should come to and end. Going forward Murphy USA stations were to be replaced by Walmart gas stations. The more than 1,000 existing Murphy USA station would remain in operation even as Walmart started adding its own brand of gas stations to its stores. It’s unfortunate that this longtime collaboration between the two companies had to come to and end, but hopefully Walmart customers will continue to enjoy affordable gas prices.
Most people like free stuff and Walmart shoppers can pick up variety of freebies every week at their local Walmart location. But before you start grabbing stuff off the in store kiosks take a minute to download the Freeosk app on your smart phone. Once you create a Freeosk account with the app you’re ready to take advantage of all the freebies. You can find samples of all kinds of products from laundry detergent to pet food to personal care products. These samples are available to try out before you decide if you’re going to spend your money on them. In case you were planning to make a run on one of these kiosks you should know that customers are allowed only one sample from a Freeosk each week. You will be prompted on the app to allow your phone to be scanned by the Freeosk to keep track of your freebies. These Freeosks are found at more than 1,300 Walmart and Sam’s Club stores across America so it’s likely you’ll find one of these at a store near you. Maybe Freeosks aren’t a reason to shop at Walmart if you usually shop elsewhere. However, if you’re already going to shop at a Walmart then you might as well try some free stuff. You might find some good products you otherwise wouldn’t have tried so why not see what they have to offer?
7. What’s in a Name?
Some shoppers prefer buying name brand products over the equivalent store brand or generic products because they think they are better quality. However, studies have shown that many store brand products are just as good as the pricier brands. Walmart launched its Great Value grocery brand in 1993. This brand covers a large number of products from frozen dinners to canned goods and household items like light bulbs and trash bags. Walmart argues that is able to offer products of equal quality to the name brands at lower prices because it is able to spend significantly less money on marketing and advertising costs. Web sites like ThriftyFun.com compare name brand and generic products from Walmart’s Great Value line and the generic’s are often judged to be as good as the more expensive versions. Hip2save.com points out that many of the generic brands are manufactured by the name brand companies. In these cases stores brands are manufactured under what’s called a private label. Stores like Walmart sell these products under their Great Value label even though they are the same products sold by the name brand companies. Shoppers get the benefit of quality products at lower prices. Some shoppers just assume that store brand items are of lower quality than name brands. This might be true for some products but in general generic products at Walmart are fine.
6. Go Gluten Free
Only a small percentage of the population actually have Celiac Disease (about 1% in the United States.) This disease is basically an allergic reaction to the protein called gluten that is found in certain grains. A person allergic to gluten could feel symptoms such as stomach pain and bloating and should avoid eating foods that contain gluten. A gluten intolerance, however, is more common than Celiac Disease with as much as 6% of the population suffering from this condition to one degree or another. Avoiding gluten can sometimes be problematic because it is found in so many different foods that are made with cereal grains like wheat, oats and barley. The vast majority of protein in these grains comes from the gluten. However, if you are one of those people who can’t consume gluten without suffering a reaction Walmart might be a good place for you to shop for gluten free products. You can find plenty of gluten free items at Walmart both in the stores and on the web site. Walmart’s Great Value brand offers a wide range of wheat, barely and rye products that are gluten free. These products include flour, granola bars, pasta, cereal and snack crackers. The retailer also puts reminders on some of its labels that certain foods are naturally gluten free such as honey and tomato sauce. With a little effort Walmart shoppers can find gluten free options for many of their groceries.
5. Second Chance Electronics
Electronics can be expensive so it makes a lot of sense there would be a demand for what’s called refurbished electronics. There can be a problem with this, because regardless of whether you buy these products from Walmart or another retailer there doesn’t seem to be a clear definition of exactly what refurbished means in this context. At the very least refurbished electronics are cleaned up and repaired, but to what extent can be unclear. A good refurbished product can be almost like new, but cost 20% to 50% less than a new item. If you’re put off by the idea of buying used electronics remember that used cars are a big part of the car market. Whether its an old Chevy or an old PC a lot of mechanical devices are cast aside when they just need a little attention so they can continue to operate. Walmart has a two tier refurbished systems with some products carrying a “certified” label while others do not have this qualification. The big box retailer sells a range of refurbished electronics including wearable technology, televisions, headphones and computers. Customer reviews for these products tend to be pretty good, but as always you’re never sure what you have until bring the product home and use it. Warranties on these products can vary a lot depending on the retailer. Walmart’s two tiered system of refurbished electronics adds some confusion to the process, but as always it is prudent to remember the ancient advice to let the buyer beware.
4. Under Glass
Walmart shoppers might assume that it is the most expensive items that the retailer puts in those annoying glass cabinets, but this isn’t necessarily the case. It’s not just Walmart either. Many drug stores and grocery stores lock up items like batteries and razors because they are convenient to steal. Some places, such as California, made the problem worse when it changed the law in 2014 with the passage of Proposition 47. Stealing items from a store with a value less than $950 would no longer be a felony. As a result, theft at retailers jumped 15% and they were forced to respond. Walmart has not been spared so in many of its stores a whole range of electronic items are locked up from blue tooth speakers to video game accessories and headphones. These small items are relatively easy to steal and have been stolen frequently enough that retailers like Walmart have responded by locking away many of these items under glass. This is an annoying reality for law abiding shoppers who have to track down the employee who has the keys to the cabinets, but you can’t really blame the stores for trying to mitigate what the industry usually calls “shrinkage.” Don’t avoid the cabinets thinking these must be the most expensive items in the store; these items are often inexpensive – they just happen to be easy to steal. You ca find many good deals in the cabinets if you’re willing to wait to have them unlocked.
3. Don’t Produce
Walmart stores sell an extensive selection of foods for breakfast and dinner and everything in between. Among these foods the stores offer a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables. Most of what the retailer sells is considered to be of decent quality, but they have a reputation for falling short when it comes to fresh produce. Walmart is usually very competitive with its pricing, but for some reason its produce prices are often higher than many other grocery stores. This especially goes for the organic produce which often is lacking in variety and can also be more expensive than comparable items at grocery stores that sell a lot of organic food. For a retailer that has built its reputation on being able to deliver low prices to its customers Walmart’s problem with produce seems strange one that the retailer would be able to address successfully if it wanted to. Perhaps this shows the limits of a big box retailer that carries so many different kinds of goods from clothing to electronics to vitamins to pizza. With so many complex supply chains delivering such a variety of goods it might be inevitable that some products just won’t live up to customers’ expectations in terms of quality or price. This is a secret that the folks at Walmart would rather its customers not know about.
2. Drugs for Everyone
Walmart isn’t encouraging everyone to take drugs, but the giant retailer does offer low prices on a lot of common medicines. For a lot of people health care costs suck up a big percentage of their income so any help with drug costs is welcome. A 30 day supply of some generic drugs can be as low as $4 and a 90 day supply only $10. Walmart’s pharmacy carries a wide selection of drugs for many conditions including diabetes, cholesterol, mental health and blood pressure. Walmart’s drug prices are low enough that the giant retailer is able to compete with the federal government’s giant Medicare program. However, this really shouldn’t be a surprise because private businesses are usually more efficient than government bureaucracy at delivering products and services. Customers appreciate the convenience of going to Walmart and being able to pick up food, clothing, electronics and even their prescriptions – all at competitive prices. It’s one thing to be able to get inexpensive shirts and DVDs whenever you want. However, for many people affordable medications can be the difference between being able to live a healthy and productive life and experiencing serious and expensive health complications. Is Walmart trying to keep its cheap drugs a secret from its customers? They want to help them out, but the company also knows its customers will spend on a lot of other items.
1. A Lifetime of Savings
Walmart has a reputation for being a little cheap when it comes to taking care of its employees, but is this reputation completely deserved? Besides the bonuses the retailer periodically gives out to its workers there is another program for Walmart employees you might not know about. Walmart employees who have worked for the company for at least 15 years earn a lifetime discount card that saves them 10% on purchases at the retailer. To qualify for this program the 15 years has to be continuous service so if you leave and go back to Walmart the clock starts again.This discount program might seem like a small gesture, but it is not something that many retailers offer. This lifetime discount applies whether you stay with the company, retire or move on to another job. This perk shows a certain level of loyalty that you don’t often see in today’s business world that is often fluid and transient. Another perk for Walmart employees that is not well known to the public is that there are Walmart web sites just for them where they can find additional savings on Walmart items. Is the 10% discount enough to convince employees to stay at Walmart over the long term? There’s no secret to this: it’s a question each employee has to answer for himself. This lifetime discount could be the difference between leaving to go work at another retailer or staying at Walmart for the long term.