Wal-Mart Adds Products Based on Consumer Feedback

The retailer is bringing back old favorites and adding new items at each store based on consumer feedback, and it has also launched a simplified ad-match policy.

Local Wal-Mart customers who were disappointed to see some region-specific items taken off the store's shelves may see their favorite items return as part of a national effort to re-establish the company's one-stop shopping convenience.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer on Monday announced that it will add an average of 8,500 products at each store, boosting inventory by about 11 percent. The company also launched a simplified ad-match policy and has refocused efforts on its “low price on everything” model.

According to Joel Anderson, senior vice president for the company's northern plains division, each store will bring back old items that were taken off shelves and add new items based on consumer feedback.

The additional inventory will be tailored to each specific area or region, Anderson said. In Minnesota, the company is bringing back ice fishing and ice hockey equipment. Minnesota stores also will also have a wider assortment of snow blowers and heavier outerwear for winter activities.

“It's really been about broadening the assortment and tailoring that assortment to the area,” Anderson told Twin Cities Business on Monday. “Customers told us that we took away things they wanted.”

Local customers have also expressed the desire for more Hispanic food options in both produce and dried goods and more products in the company's craft and fabrics section. Later this month, products that have returned will have “It's Back” flags so customers can easily identify them.

Anderson said that although the retailer has been hiring since the beginning of the year, the increase in inventory will not immediately create any new positions.

The company's new, simplified ad-match policy was launched Monday. Under the new policy, customers no longer have to bring in a competitor's advertisement to get a matching discount because sales associates can access the ads at checkout.

“We're reinvigorating our price-leadership promise,” Anderson said.

Wal-Mart associates have gone through extensive training to ensure that the policy is executed consistently across all stores, according to Anderson. The company has also increased competitive checks to make sure Wal-Mart has the lowest prices.

“Price is more important than ever,” Anderson said. “The economy is tough, and we want customers to know that you'll have the lowest [price] at Wal-Mart.”

Despite rumors that Wal-Mart is planning major expansions in Minnesota through the addition of a new distribution center, no such announcement was made on Monday.