Back in October 2018, I met with Walmart’s online team about a new PRO TOOLS curated store experience they were putting together.
About a year after that, I wanted to post an update, and was told that big things were coming soon.
It has been a little over two years since Walmart launched their Pro Tools store, and I have one word to describe what I have seen so far: disappointing.
Two words? Utterly disappointing.
Walmart pumped up my excitement and enthusiasm – and no they didn’t pay me anything – but they squandered any potential they had.
The Walmart Pro Tools experience in 2021? *scoff* What Pro Tools experience?
But wait – they added Makita to their list of participating brands! Walmart is selling several Makita cordless power tool SKUs directly to users, and the rest are simply marketplace listings. So what?
Oh, but what about the Walmart Pro Tools “curated shopping experience?”
Sure, they have pro tool categories, but once you click through, the listings are unfiltered, with direct listings, listings from their initial hand-picked 3rd party partners, and listings from many other 3rd party sellers.
I haven’t heard from the Walmart Pro Tools team in a very long time, ever since the project lead left the company.
Has Walmart abandoned the effort, relegating the Pro Tools experience to nothing but a category link in the site-wide directory?
What was supposed to be a fancy pro-user-oriented shopping experience has become what, an automated mix of direct and 3rd party marketplace seller listings?
At the time, Walmart officials said that they can help coordinate bringing private labels to market. Might this mean the potential for bringing some USA-made tools to the mix? Brands that previously supplied Sears’ Craftsman brand were hurting – could Walmart and their Pro Tools experience create some opportunities there?
Why did they mention and even emphasize this in our meetings? What did they have in mind? What kind of pro-audience initiative could come of this?
Or, were they alluding to the Hart tools launch? You can now buy a 2pc set of Hart pliers for the dirt-cheap price of $5.
I was told that the Walmart Pro Tools store was going to be *the place* to buy professional tools, equipment, and woodworking tools.
But, I asked, why buy from Walmart over the other online tool retailers where the tools are drop-shipped no matter where you buy them?
And to that, they talked up Walmart.com’s customer service as the main advantage.
I ordered a couple of items from Walmart this past year, and based on that I would NEVER buy any sort of heavy tool equipment or items that need to be shipped via freight. I was open-minded, but if Walmart’s customer service cannot handle simple things like preorder and backorder complications in a satisfactory manner, how are they going to handle anything that might go wrong with an order involving woodworking tools or other such heavy workshop equipment?
Grizzly Tools sells their G0505 benchtop planer for $395 plus $49 freight. The Walmart Pro Tools store has the same Grizzly planer, with Grizzly as the seller, for $495, or $51 more. Amazon also has it for $495. Both Walmart and Amazon offer “free shipping” on the marked-up tool. Could you tell me why anyone might buy this via Walmart?
There was so much potential for the Walmart Pro Tools experience store.
They could have been the go-to for premium tools. They could have worked out special deals. They could have brought to market a special line of affordable USA-made hand tools.
I read back all my optimism from back when the Walmart Pro Tools store first launched, and it just makes me angry.
They promised so much, and delivered so little.
Did they decide that competing against Home Depot and others was too hard? Did the team lose interest? Was the plan nixed from high-up? Did the grand strategy change? Was this related to Walmart’s partnership with Hart Tools and TTI? I really don’t understand what happened here.
I think that the plan and strategy was well thought out from the start, but it seems that Walmart never followed through on the execution. I can understand that this happens sometimes, but it’s a shame nonetheless.
There were a couple of bugs in the system, such as non-curated links finding their way into the curated section, but nothing major.
Would you buy any pro tools from Walmart today? I wouldn’t, unless there were substantial savings compared to Amazon or Home Depot, or there were availability considerations.
What frustrates me is that Walmart could have been the tools destination that Sears was 10-15 years ago, or even bigger. At that time, Sears had very strong Craftsman and Craftsman Pro brands, special partnerships with popular brands, and they brought it new brands that were scarcely available at other USA tool retailers and distributors. And, they had compelling promotions and sales on occasion. Walmart could have done the same – and more – but they didn’t.
I am so disappointed in Walmart. I would say that I regret allowing myself to be so enthusiastic about the prospects, but my sentiments then were as genuine as my feelings are now.
A lot of people put much planning, time, and effort into the Walmart Pro Tools experience storefront, and it seems they either gave up or the higher-up powers-that-be put the kibosh on the initiative. I don’t know what happened, but for all intent and purposes, their efforts seem to have been abandoned.
Check it Out Here – and tell me if you think I’m wrong