Saturday, December 02, 2006

Wal-Mart's per unit prices

I've been a Wal-Mart regular for several months now, ever since discovering the company's helpful per-unit price displays (usually in pounds or in ounces and standardized across all brands offering a certain product) to the left of each item's total price. Instead of having to fire my parsimonious neurons at full capacity to compare per-unit prices of ingredient-identical items a la Clark Howard--is it better to go three 10 ounce Best Choice cans, or two 15 ounce Del Monte cans?--I can hone in on the lowest per-unit number in the green bean section of the vegetable aisle and be done with it.

Do other retailers do this? I'm not aware of any that do, although I'm hardly well-traveled in the arena.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

WinCo does this also pretty pervasively. Pretty much only a few things temporarily on sale won't have per-unit prices already figured for you.

crush41 said...

Thanks. Looks like they only operate out west though.

Anonymous said...

HEB & Costco in TX do the same.

BigB said...

I know for a fact that hy-vee does not. Then again, Hy-vee and most other grocery chains cant afford to not make money on their stock. Wal-mart can essentially sell all their food items near cost because they make all their money on non-foods. Grocery chains thrive on the ignorance of its customers and do not have the luxury that wal-mart has. It doesnt matter one bit to wal-mart which can of green beans is the best deal, they make almost no money on it anyway.

crush41 said...

Grocery chains thrive on the ignorance of its customers and do not have the luxury that wal-mart has."

That's awfully cynical coming from you! Of course, predatory pricing is an enormous advantage that a giant like WalMart has, and that advantage is twofold:

First, Walmart can take losses on some product categories and make money elsewhere, shifting margins based on competitors in various product categories.

Second, Walmart has incredible supplier power. The guys in Bentonville lay down the law, and the suppliers either adhere to it or don't get to sell in Walmart stores, which is a devastating market loss.

Grocers have to fight back by competing on something other than price, and many do (HyVee is a nicer store to walk into and the employees are more knowledgable than Walmart's associates who usually can only point you in the general direction of what you're looking for), although new Supercenters are progressively attaining nicer inside environments (ie lighting, temperature control, etc); HenHouse has a cozy sit-down deli inside, etc).

crush41 said...

Last time I was in Costco I don't recall seeing them, but it's been a few months. I'll make a point to drop in in the near future. Thanks.

bigb said...

It is all about customer service. The way we fight back is making sure we are Smarter, faster, and more personable to make the customers shopping experience one that they will not forget. An experience that makes them feel like they have a family at their local hy-vve. Im sure that is plenty of "Hy-vee Handbook" ideals at this point in time. But yes, We cant beat wal-marts prices. But the quality of environment and product is far superior and the price really isnt that much more. This is why wal-mart will never put companies like hy-vee out of business.