Did you know that Walmart will be launching a new Pro Tools shopping experience?
I spent some time chatting with them to learn about what this means, and will share some of that with you here, and in a followup post.
ToolGuyd also recently joined Walmart’s affiliate program, meaning that if you buy something through a special link, we’ll earn a small commission. We have similar arrangements with other retailers, but this one is a little different. I have a direct line of communication with the folks who have been planning and building the new Walmart Pro Tools shopping experience, learning more about the why and how, but I have also been dropping hints about what I’d like to see it grow into over time.
Some emphasis is called for – this will be a Walmart.com Pro Tool shopping experience, and not one that will come to stores. (Yet?)
One thing has me more excited than all the others, and it’s that Walmart is basically targeting customers like me, you, and others like us – those that make careful decisions about the tools they buy and use, valuing quality, features, and capabilities.
This will be a curated shopping portal of sorts, without a lot of the unrelated chaos that now inhabits some other online marketplaces and storefronts.
After talking to some of the tool department folks that are leading the charge, I am both convinced and optimistic that Walmart.com is serious about this endeavor. They want to earn our business, and not with quick tricks or gimmicks.
Why should I buy my tools from the Walmart.com Pro Tools store? When I asked this, the answers surprised me, and I found that, as a somewhat infrequent Walmart.com shopper, I missed some changes that were made to the regular Walmart.com shopping and return experience.
I was told that returning online orders in-store has been made easier and quicker. My last return (at least over a year ago) took some time, but Walmart has been working on hastening that experience.
There will also be pickup discounts, where you can elect to pick up your order at the local Walmart via a ship-to-store option. That could potentially be a big deal.
I have hopes and ideas about how Walmart.com could be MY ideal tool shopping destination, and I’m not shy about sharing these ideas with the Walmart.com tool department team. Part of that comes from disappointments with other once-favored new tool sources.
That adds to why I’m so excited about the new “store” launch – because my tool department contacts are open and listening to feedback and ideas. They’ve been working hard to prepare for this new launch, and as I understand it, they plan to push forward with continual developments.
At the risk of being repetitive, it looks to me that they want to be be taken seriously by discerning (and at times demanding) tool users and buyers like us, and that can only work to our benefit.
So, knowing that Walmart.com wants their Pro Tools shopping destination to appeal to folks like us, who are perhaps more demanding and diligent about shopping for and buying new tools, what would you like to see them do?
What could or should Walmart.com do, for their Pro Tools site-within-a-site do earn your favor?
Or, another way of putting it – what kind of modern-day online retailer behaviors do you want to see them avoid?
Me? I’d like to see Walmart’s Pro Tools team add more less-well-known hand tool brands, perhaps boosting the presence of American and European-made offerings in the process. Having the Pro Tools section be a curated (or filtered) experience is a big plus in my book. I’ve grown tired of having to sort through 3rd party listings and off-branded products, sometimes even when I search using an exact model number.
There will be more to say once the Walmart.com Pro Tools experience launches.
This post reads like an advertisement. I feel like an informed buyer really only cares about price and convenience. I know what tool I’m looking for and I want the best price on it. It’ll be interesting to see if Walmart can compete with Amazon on prices.
Not really sure what a “Pro Tools Experience” is even after reading the post.
It’s not an advertisement or sponsored in any way. The Pro Tools site launches soon. In the meantime, I want to know what readers want to see in such a store.
10 years ago, one of my once-favored retailers had new and unfamiliar brands, exclusive deals, and were a pleasure to order from. Now, I won’t spend a dime there. Another online retailer picked up the slack and offered a growing selection and great pricing. Now, unless I know exactly what I want, I have to sort through pages of no-name and unrelated products. Tool deals have been far and in-between.
I’m excited about what Walmart is doing because, at least from all the things I expect to see and happen, they’re aiming for competitive pricing, compelling deals, a focus on convenience – with regard to both purchases and returns – but more than that, they seem to actually give a damn about the users and customers they aim to attract.
I won’t be shy about sharing details about Walmart can do if they want to become my go-to tool retailer. That’s the question I’m asking. “Amazon-competitive pricing and convenience” is a good answer.
It’s hard to explain, but here’s an example. At another online retailer, searching for “heavy duty drill kit,” and there’s a sponsored listing for a headlight restoration kit, a sponsored listing for brake rotors, a 3rd party Craftsman drill listing, a 3rd party Dewalt listing, 2 other drill kit listings, another 2 headlight restoration kit listings, a corded rotary hammer listing, a 3rd party 6-tool combo kit, sponsored listings for safety wire pliers and an ipad mount, 2 magnetic drill press listings, an impact wrench kit, another heavy duty drill kit listing, a vehicle scrubber brush attachment, 2 gun safe listings, a 3rd party auger shed anchor kit, a sponsored listing for 3rd party-sold brake rotors, and a sponsored 3rd party listing for a 69pc screwdriver set.
Walmart’s Pro Tools Experience is going to show pro-grade tools, and that’s it. And there are actual people controlling what gets added and filtered as part of the shopping experience.
You also won’t see low-end $30 drill kits from 3rd party vendors and direct-from-China brands.
To be honest, what you described in your 2nd to last paragraph in your reply is why I no longer even use Walmart.com to even price compare (tools or electronics). I would put in fairly specific parameters (i.e. 12V brushless impact driver) and get a similar result. IF they are going to drop the third party swamp that bogs down their current site (especially in the tools) that’d be a good start.
Another consideration is the ship to store discount. I have mostly stopped using the Home Depot ship to store because it generally takes 3-7 days longer to arrive than shipping to my home. If they can offer comparable arrival time on top of a discount that would be a big consideration.
I’m curious about their improved return policy. I’ve had almost no issues with Lowes or Home Depot whether ordered online or picked up in store. That’s been a huge reason I’ve almost eliminated ordering tools online unless it was through Lowes/Home Depot because if is was junk or not what I needed I could take it to the store at my convenience to return the item.
Agreed, Walmart.com has been forever cluttered with third party, sometimes irrelevant search results. If the corporate greed can cease I won’t hold my breathe.
The pickup in store discount is minimal for grocery/household items, not worthy of the trouble. I’m interested to see what it will be on tools.
Don’t you think maybe it makes sense to wait and see how the site ends up before getting excited? I know you’re not a dummy Stuart, you know what kind of company walmart is and what kind of tools they sell. There’s a 99% chance this is just going to be the same old stanley chinese junk at a modest discount.
If you didn’t get paid for this post, you should have. All you’ve done is regurgitate a press release without any critical analysis.
I’ve been talking to them about this for a few months. I’m impatient, and wanted to say a few things before everything goes live.
The point of this post is to invite feedback, opinions, what-not and I sure have been doing that. I’ve been running ToolGuyd for a long time. Do you know how hard it is to find a big nationwide retailer or mega online retailer that’s willing to listen to feedback of any kind?
When a company is looking to focus a retail experience for someone like ME, I’m going to speak up if given the opportunity. This post was meant to be a way to extend that same opportunity to ToolGuyd readers.
Think of it this way – the chef of a new restaurant is listening to how I like my favorite dishes cooked. In today’s world, it seems like everyone else over-seasons it, under-cooks it, or takes too long, serving it cold. So do I keep that to myself or try to explain what’s going on, even though it’ll come across as messy because the restaurant isn’t open yet?
My judgement isn’t infallible. A few years ago, Sears convinced me that they wanted to change things around. We gave them feedback. https://toolguyd.com/what-do-you-think-about-craftsman-and-sears/ And they did absolutely nothing with it. But I feel a lot more confident about this.
“Do you know how hard it is to find a big nationwide retailer or mega online retailer that’s willing to listen to feedback of any kind?”
I’ll bet its more than a little frustrating for you – but take heart in that your readership seems (for the most part) like what you do and keeps coming back to see what you and others have to say.
I’m not sure what nationwide retailers think or if they even gather feedback in some statistically meaningful way so as to adopt anything or adjust their strategies. Some seem to act as if their customers are just a batch of whining brats – and a lost customer is often the result. Most of us are sort of the “Richard Nixon silent majority” – and we opine about bad service or other dislikes by walking away. Once that gets to be a deluge of lost sales it may be too late – even with the best restructuring advice or plan.
“Free advice” by way of your blog – if collected and presented in a meaningful way – might help Wal-Mart move into this new arena – but I suspect that they would not value it as much as what they might get from some McKinsey-Like management consultant or a Saatchi&Saatchi moderated focus group – both of which would cost big bucks. Meanwhile I guess they want to do something – seeing that Amazon is “eating a larger share of everyone’s lunch ” with Bezos now surpassing Bill Gates in terms of wealth.
As a matter of principle I applaud competition and like to see new entrants into the competitive market succeed. I’m just not sure that Wal_Mart and Amazon duking it out for our tool-buying dollars is a great idea. When I bought for several businesses – I was often happier dealing with smaller vendors – particular those who had a presence within the areas we served. Seeing them further marginalized is not something I’d like.
John, search “Fesstool on the Walmart site” Or NWS pliers. Or Knipex. If brands like that are on the general Walmart site, I suspect the new Pro Tools site will also carry them.
Knipex, yes. Festool – no.
Festool might be an interesting potential partner. They have a 30-day trial satisfaction guarantee period. Being able to potentially return a tool to a Walmart store might push some people to try the brand for the first time. Unfortunately, it might also increase the number of people “renting” tools.
I like your site, and read your reviews and news articles regularly, but this does read like an ad. That, mixed with your claim that it’s not sponsored in any way, while also carrying the disclaimer that you are a Walmart affiliate now, makes it seem somewhat suspect.
Sorry, there was no other way to tone things. I’m genuinely excited about what they’re launching, and what they’re working on.
There will be a forthcoming “launch” post, but I wanted a pre-launch post to get people thinking about what they want out of it.
There are affiliate links in this post: https://toolguyd.com/deal-kreg-r3-pocket-hole-jig-w-free-screws-bundle/ . And some more coming soon, as they have some other nice deals planned for this month’s launch of the Pro Tools portal.
I refrained from dropping names, but Sears utterly let us all down, for years now. They had good things going for customers like us, and then POOF, they stopped caring.
There’s another mega online retailer, one that I still like a lot, but it seems like they stopped trying. Most of us are already shopping there, and it seems like they stopped caring, and figure that we’ll continue to buy our tools there because we’re now in the habit of doing so.
So that’s why I’m excited about this Walmart Pro Tools stuff, because it seems they care about attracting and keeping our business.
I’ve bought a number of things from walmart in the last 2 years via online and either ship to home for free or pick up in store for free.
It’s been odd because they’ve all been things walmart doesn’t carry in the stores at all.
One great example is motor oil. I can get my motor oil delivered to my house for free, cheaper than I can buy it in the store and it’s a better grade of oil than they carry in the store. It doesn’t make sense but they sell it that way.
I’d like to see their plans. How do they plan on providing a better shopping experience than any other online retailer out there? With no in-store support at this time, there isn’t much that hasn’t already been done.
Oh I’m sure they’ll be real humdingers?
Exactly. They probably think Stanley and Empire are professional tools. Oh, let’s not forget Vermont American and Buck Bros. Ooh, love me some Black and Decker.
One would think Sears and/or NewEgg would be pretty good at this already since users of their marketplaces have at least some varying degree of tool savviness, but they don’t. Trying to find items on those sites through keywords or even part numbers is mostly a poor experience, especially the latter. If Walmart can do this better, it will be really good. Time will tell!
Sears used to have a lot going for their tool department. They had a great buyer that brought new and unfamiliar brands to the catalog, they had good deals, the Craftsman calendar brought me to the store, and I enjoyed their Fall-season holiday tool catalog even more than their regular annual tool catalog. The tool buyer must have left, the online platform was cluttered with 3rd party listings, they seemingly stopped caring about anyone but bargain and gift shoppers, and customer service quality diminished. Well, I always had issues with Sears, and had to file BBB complaints more than once to get a proper refund. Search for “drill kit,” and there are 500+ marketplace results and 92 Sears results.
One of the retailers I used to check for new tools at took away that option. It’s simply gone, and my existing shortcuts no longer work either. Another has (had?) a listing of 100 new products, but it was always populated with existing products. Why? Because it’s algorithm-based and subject to manipulation by 3rd party sellers. I asked how a tool with 2 years of reviews is a “new arrival,” and they told me it’s a new release.
We can definitely use more customer-focused shopping experiences, rather than systems that cater more towards fee-paying 3rd party sellers. I’m hoping that Walmart’s Pro Tools source will fit that bill.
Tool Barn. CPO. Tyler Tool Acme. There are plenty of places to shop. What you are unlikely to find anywhere, including Walmart, are deals not sanstioned by the manufacturer. Prices are fixed.
For interchangeable tools (such as hand tools or corded tools, NOT cordless), a good parametric search engine might be a real help. The classic examples are Digikey and Mouser. On the consumer side, Newegg probably has the best, although I think they’ve been slipping.
Using Mouser as an example, let’s say a want a standard D-sub connector. Here’s the Mouser’s starting point:
Even better, let’s say I found a Norcomp connector such as the 171-025-102, but I want to see what else is available. Mouser displays a whole tree (All Products -> Connectors -> D-Sub Connectors -> D-Sub Standard Connectors ) where can click anywhere to go a broader selection of products. I think this same approach could be applied very well to many tool categories.
I was frustrated by some mixed-in Newegg 3rd party listings when shopping for new parts for my latest desktop computer build, but their search is still great when you know exactly what parameters you want to add to the filter.
Mouser is also exceptionally good about filtering their huge catalog. I’ve had some difficulties in finding what I needed in the past, but a quick call or email and they’ll sort it out fast.
I was going to mention the same thing about 3rd Party Listings.
IMO, this is a major detractor from Sears, Newegg, and Walmart.com today. There’s so many trash listings that get in the way of a good browsing experience. So if I could add one thing I’d like to see with this new Walmart thing is to exclude 3rd party listings entirely.
When the new page/section/experience launches, there will be two 3rd party sellers, and only for certain brands.
And, of course, hire product specialists that know and love tools.
I second the idea of adding quality tools from smaller manufacturers.
Well, since they are far behind the ball with Amazon on getting the sheer number of reviews on products, it would be nice if when you went to their buying site that you could see something from third-parties, such as Consumer Reports or similar. Or, heck, get their own professional reviewers to do unbiased reviews with video demonstrations. Sick of all the fake reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Of course, doing unbiased reviews only work if you turn down manufacturers selling garbage.
Unrelated, but if you think Amazon always beats Walmart on prices, you’ll be in for a surprise. Most of the time they are at least comparable and just as often higher or lower than the other. Plus, with Walmart if you want free shipping there area always things I can tack on, like my Community coffee, to get over their free shipping hump.
What is Walmart Pro Tools going to provide that other retailers don’t?
What selection? Power tools? Hand tools? Brands?
Too many questions at this point
Need to build a review base, and have truly good daily deals.
eBay used to have awesome daily deals, but now it’s just crap that is usually cheaper in the related listings at the bottom of the page!
Home Depot runs a pretty good daily deal section, so it’s something a check every single morning
Again not sure what this means. You mean buying Dewalt, Milwaukee,Makita ,Bosch, Festool,? Or Ridgid and Ryobi ? Online through Walmart? And they accept warranty problems in store? Returns in store? Walmart being an Authorized dealer of these companies? Even Amazon isn’t an authorized dealer to many brands.
Can’t imagine it ever happening and these tool companies letting Walmart be an authorized dealer.
Maybe diy tools, Ryobi,Porter Cable,kobalt,etc…..hand tools from American companies, Proto,Mac,Matco,SnapOn,Wright….can’t see it either….. imported Chinese junk ,ya!
Don’t get me wrong,I’d love to see it,all of that happening and more, Knipex,Wera,Wiha,PB Swiss,Metabo and Walmart would be awesome….
Experience like …type in ” cordless router” and every company that makes a cordless router is shown without any other traffic……ya I think most Builders would love that, I would…
I’d be surprised if they push Ryobi and Ridgid (with the exception of plumbing tools from Emerson) brands seeing how Home Depot seems to have some exclusive. Nor are you likely to seen Kobalt or Husky items (Lowes and HD brands) – but maybe they could have a virtual SBD – pro-brand store carrying (Dewalt, Bostitch, and Proto – with maybe even Lista and Vidmar items) They might do the same with Snap-On brands (Snap-On, Williams, Bahco), Bosch (Bosch, Freud etc.), ITW brands (Paslode, Duo-Fast, Ramset et.) , Apex brands (like Dotco as well as the more consumer brands) and Ideal (Ideal, SK etc.). Then they could add a virtual storefront for other independent brands like Hilti, Klein. Makita, Mafell, Festool etc.
I would love to see Milwaukee tools as well, but SBD makes a lot of sense.
As long as they are truly selling pro grade tools, and not diy specials, I think this idea has a lot of promise.
I try to stay out of Walmart as much as I can. Hard to believe they will be anything more than a HF clone but time will tell. As long as they treat their employees poorly they get no pass from me.
I currently work for walmart and I feel I am treated at least as well as I have been at any other job I’ve had. In fact this year I got 6 weeks paid time off when my son was born.
I like that Walmart has a lot of physical stores already. It means they can offer free shipping without building it into the price. (The delivery truck just adds the tool orders to the manifest) And being able to return it to a store would make save a lot of hassle, at least in my case, and possibly save Walmart money… which in a competitive market would translate in to lower costs for us.
As far as the online shopping goes, I definitely would like a minimal amount of irrelevant stuff the pages.
Maybe I missed it but did you relate when appropriately WalMart might go live with this interesting idea?
Soon. I can’t give an exact date in case it changes, but it should kick off within the month, and I’ll be tracking the deals through the holiday shopping season.
I am not sure of course how it will actually look but I am very supportive of the attempt.
Look, online retail is IT for most pro level anything you buy anymore. These stores(look at Lowes) do not want nor do they need every single item any company makes in a huge, expensive inventory. With direct shipping from a distributor whether Walmart owned or a combined effort between manufacturers and the retailer would work right well.
Want that one unusual Klein combination pliers that has been in their catalogue for years but is never in HD or a supply house? Well, with our super duper Walmart pro service we will happliy make that order and for your convenience we will ship it to the store for nothing but it may take longer or direct to you for a fee in three days. Enter credit card please. This sort of model is tailor made for giant retailers like Walmart and Amazon with their massive financial ability and fully functional shoping systems.
More importantly, they have massive delivery ability with UPS, USPS, and FedEx. They don’t really need a dedicated warehouse/distribution center as a stand alone. The manufacturers already have the ability to drop ship or supply big amounts as they need. Cooperative agreements with Walmart orAmazon would be easy. This could be a big deal if done well. If…
As for pure wants? Access to pro hand tools. Particularly stuff like Wright Tool and other good American made brands that are harder to source easily for most people. It is like Proto mechanics tools. Most times you have to grt them from Graingefmor maybe McMaster-Carr or similar places. If you are not a large account you are going to get HAMMERED on prices by outfits like Grainger. Walmart could bridge that gap. Again, IF this is done well.
Grainger has a rather different model – and used to anyway – kick back based on how much your annual spend was with them. The little guy – buying from Grainger does seem to get socked – but maybe that’s why Zoro works with a somewhat different model and has those 20-25% off sales.
One thing that Wal-Mart might be able to do is to offer some flexibility in pricing based on volume. That’s where Amazon fails. The typical Amazon price – with built-in shipping costs is based on buying 1 item at a time. What if I want to buy in multiples and ship to the same location?
Fred, indeed we had the Grainger ‘deal’ at my employer. I won’t get into specifics but the rebate was LARGE. All is as clear as mud however. Of course facilities had the greatest expenditures but the rebates went to our general fund. This made for some interesting conversations at budget time.
I will give them this though. When they say for ‘the ones who get things done’ they are not kidding. Many times we would order something to see it that afternoon or early the next morning.
They and other big names like McMaster-Carr or Graybar are really set up for commercial and industrial accounts. They do not really have display counters as such and most will not sell to someone with no sales tax number. Oh, Grainger will do it from their web site but you are going to PAY. It is why I always tell people not to shop there as individuals. They are not a bad outfit, they just don’t serve the DIY or mom and pop contractor community in any real capacity.
And your points about Walmart are very astute. They are much more accustomed to dealing with end customers and commercial accounts. People think of Walmart as the general store and it is. But they go much deeper than just walk-in shoppers looking for toilet paper and school supplies. Their web site has stuff you would have never associated with being sold at Walmart. The .com has made this a necessity. And many businesses buy all sorts of supplies from them.
Yes, they understand well the buy in bulk model. And it is why I believe, unlikely as it would seem at first flush, they could pull this off if they put effort and thought into it. This was what Sears used to do and bollocksed it up with their refusal to understand and cultivate online sales presence. I do not believe Walmart, even if this venture fails, will make the same mistakes.
You are incorrect with your assessment of the availability of professional tools in retail stores. There are a multitude of professional suppliers in every metropolitan area. Check your local lumber yard. There are easily a dozen stores I can go to within 20 minutes of my house excluding the big boxes where I would not buy tools anyway.
Lots of great comments and input! It’s nice to see others share the same thoughts and issues that I myself have with many online retailers including past vs present offerings, problems and plain stupid mistakes made that pissed the consumers off.
Regarding Walmart and Pro-Tool offering? My Initial response is that of humor. When I think pro tools, Walmart doesn’t even come to mind. They whored out their online site years ago to 3rd party vendors and lost me as a customer because their site was so horrible to shop! I will say they have gotten much better in the last year with the ability to choose “at your store” and “Walmart.com” along with basic cleaning up their site has brought me back to at least to check on items and many times, yes, make on online purchase a few times a month.
In summary; want to play with the “Big Boys” …be my guest, but remember we are not all computer nerds and ease of shopping including “search, shipping and checkout” is a huge advantage as time is money! Daily or weekly deals seems to bring many to a site. Comment section is something most of us enjoy and use. Competitive pricing is a no-brainer.
Things which I’d want to see:
– longevity — will products continue to be available for reasonable periods of time
– returns policy — will it stand up to folks using it as a rental service, but also allow folks who have a legitimate need to return something to return it
– warranty — how will that be handled? Ages ago I bought a couple of Popular Mechanics brand tools from Wal-Mart — they’ve held up well, but I was sobered by seeing a person at the service counter bring in a broken tool and being turned away ’cause Wal-Mart no longer sold them (and the kid at the service desk claiming they never had — I stepped in to confirm, and eventually we got a manager who could remember them being sold, but who claimed w/o a receipt nothing could be done)
– now that Wal-Mart has pretty much destroyed main street, I guess they’re going for the profit items at the big box stores and specialty internet sites — how low are we as a society willing to go? If everything is always sold for the lowest possible price point and narrowest possible margins with the fewest number of people involved in production, distribution and sales, who will be the customers and how will they earn enough money to buy anything?
– how will pricing and item SKUs be handled? Will these be specialty items not available for comparison pricing at other sites? Will Wal-Mart demand an ever spiraling downward price point from its vendors? See: https://www.fastcompany.com/54763/man-who-said-no-wal-mart
I, personally, boycott Walmart.
Nothing they have that I can’t buy somewhere else – at least until their predatory business practices drive everyone else out of business. Walmart has a history of driving all the “mom and pop” companies out of business and then closing their store – leaving communities with no local options.
Just my choice. YMMV.
Yeah, it’s a bad day when I have to darken their door — usually ’cause no one else in town has something in stock and I can’t afford to wait.
Sam Walton would be mortified by how his kids and the stockholders are running the company.
Compared to the nearly inevitable onslot of full AI inventory control, order fulfillment and eventual self driving delivery I’m not at all sure how any of this will work out.
Single Payer and government guaranteed income (see Northern Europe very soon) for the less able to cope will be the likely future.
Ask Jeff Bezos or even Elon Musk.
I don’t know. A science fiction take on this is:
I like Acme Tools for tools, they know tools and that is what they do.
I like Fareway grocery that is what they do.
Just my two cents.
I don’t understand what the big deal is its same stuff you can buy from all the other .COM’ S with better service
With the exception of a few Makita and Milwaukee items, Lowes and Home Depot no longer carry professional tools. So my question is, is Wal-Mart trying to compete with them, or will they carry true professional grade tools? It would be great to have a reliable source for Rol-Air, Max, Sawstop, and the like….. Not to mention hand tools. Have you ever tried to buy a post maul, or a field shovel at a big retailer? Here’s hoping that Wal-Mart gets this right.
I’ve never shopped for tools at Walmart. This is largely because my impression was that they carried products made specifically for Walmart and therefore sacrificed quality to hit a specific price point.
Will they be carrying products typically available elsewhere? If so, will the benefit be a better price point? I’m happy with my amazon and HD experiences. HD and Walmart about equidistant from my house
I avoid WalMart completely. There are so many good reasons to do so, I can’t imagine ever changing perspective.
Personally I think wmt is spreading themselves too thin and they don’t take care of the basics. They’ll do my shopping for me and bring it out the car, but they are usually oos on 25% of the absolute basics that they should be layers deep of stock. I started avoiding them because it is an absolute waste of time going there only to have to go somewhere else because they’re oos.
Most of the items on your wishlist will not be addressed by those responsible for a product class at the ecommerce site of a major retailer. Leaving aside the incentives provided by manufacturers to ensure they receive their “share of shelf space” minority interest tools from small scale manufacturers with all the attendant supply problems will also not be of much interest while on the supplier side playing games with the big dog who wants to “regulate” pricing across all outlets will not be a pleasant experience.
If only there was a website where highly interested commentators could review information about new and unusual products seeking to find a home effectively carrying out a process akin to peer review hang on it exists and is called Toolguyd. I have suggested before that there be the equivalent of a Hall of Fame for tools which do their job to an above acceptable standard e.g. all 18v drills from major manufacturers with the standard being equivalent to the reasonable man test with a superior classification for tools which are well beyond this.
One of the problems would be cost and whether tools which are far beyond the needs of virtually everyone in terms of cost Festool, Lamello, etc get beyond a “supercar” sticker given that the individuals purchasing such tools would not normally need advice on their purchases. Another problem would be convincing people to let go of their tribalism.
I think you’ve described professional photographers and to a degree professional musicians. Neither of whom would have access to their professional gear if it were not for the vast amateur market.
Except maybe Leica and Baldwin respectively.
Kinda like Patek Philippe v. Swatch.
BTW, Steinways are the only pianos still made in the USA; Baldwin stopped in 2008, and all their pianos are now made in China. (My family has a 1992 US made Baldwin grand, which is pretty good)
At least they are in the right direction with whats wrong with Walmart which is “the experience”. The “experience” going there is what has turned me off to going at all. If i could get in and get out of there as quickly as possible and there was no waiting in one of three lines when there are 42 unworked registers there.
But if we’re just talking about tool availability, most of what is there is to meet a very low price point. So call me skeptical. I don’t know how that translates to “Pro Tools” with such winning name brands like “Tough Tools Inc”. I also wonder if this means hiring professionals who actually know about tools there and can recommend tools (not just limited and pushing to what they have) for the job.
As long as I don’t have to go into their store, I am always game for any and all competition. Better for me. 🙂
I’m trying to keep an open mind, but I couldn’t help but laugh when reading the title of this article. Has Walmart done a SWOT analysis for this? (Apparently not.) Within just a few miles of my house I already have: Ace Hardware, Home Depot, Lowe’s, Menard’s, Harbor Freight (albeit, I never go to that one) . . . not to mention additional small mom/pop stores that all cater to the tool market segment, whether through in-person customer interaction or via online.
Walmart has always been in an awkard position where despite its sheer market size, it finds itself constantly trying to play catch-up with its e-commerce competition. Is that what this is really about?
In my humble opinion, Walmart doesn’t have a business model which caters to anything with the word “PRO” in it. It’s about brand recognition . . . and everyone already knows what the Walmart brand stands for . . . “cheap”.
We liked to call SWOT – WOTSUP
Lots of folks seem to just focus on the “O” and their S’s – not wanting to acknowledge that they have any W’s or that there might be T’s associated with what they are thinking about.
This whole thing may hinge on how much volume they can generate and use it to pressure the supply chain (aka tool manufacturers) . WalMart certainly has the clout – with worldwide revenues almost 3 times what HD, Lowes and Menards do combined – but as you say they have a reputation for serving the low end of the market.
Good points. I’ve just looked at Walmart’s new website and I wasn’t impressed. (I Googled it; it wasn’t hard to find.) I did some price comparisons between some of their “PRO” brand offerings with Amazon and the prices were identical. There appear to be a lot of 3rd party offerings as well. I don’t think this is Walmart’s competitive advantage. But I wish them the best in trying. If the consumer wins, that’s always a good thing.
Main “PRO Tool” Brands:
That is not a bad starting list. And of course the user friendliness of the site will be huge.
One of the things I always like at a site is an instant pop-over of sorts when you hover over a listing. Something that automagically brings up a box ofmsorts with description that is more than the initial listing but less than full on specs and photos. It gives you much more information without loads of clicking and back clicking. When you move the mouse it disappears.
And something they should make crystal clear is whether you are buying from Walmart or third parties.
As to the brands, the fact they list Knipex at least tells me someone in their group handling this has at least heard of or listened to tradesmen about tools. Most guys in the traces are still pretty fuzzy about German brands most times. Much bettrer in the under 45 group but nowhere near the instant recognition of Klein. Wonder what HD thinks of that listing at Walmart?
Now we know where Porter Cable will be after the Craftsman launch at Lowes…
Read the whole thing.
None the wiser practically other than that toolguyd will be an affiliate.
I’m nowhere near believing this will be successful.
If WM wants to sell me tools, they will need to have top tool brands and beat the price and convenience of local Home Depot & Lowes, online retailers like Amazon, and others. Seeing that they won’t have Ridgid, Milwaukee, Ryobi … that leaves Bosch and Makita.
Hand tools, storage, … there are options.
I think I’d rather see WM flesh out their tool department a bit, but just like their automotive dept is no ( insert natiowide autoparts retailer name ) …
I’m not a WalMart shopper, and have only been in one a handful of times. Each time, it’s been dirty, disorganized and the very few salespeople I’ve encountered were clearly disinterested in their jobs.
What will it take to get my business? A search engine better than Amazon. Customer service as good as Amazon (which is fantastic) and as good as my local independent farm supply place (also very good service). Good selection and good prices of course.
Honestly, I just don’t like WalMart enough to want to spend much time there. Who knows; this might help change my attitude if it works.
Another aspect we may be overlooking is Walmart’s rural reach. Sure, Amazon will deliver just about anything to you. Now return it when you need to. Many times this will include a huge restocking fee. I bought one of those Flambeau waterproof satchel boxes a couple of years ago when it was at a good price on Amazon. It was just too big for what I wanted to do with it which was rotary tool and bit storage. When I clicked return and started the process, I was going to pay nearly 50% of the price to return it. It was cheaper in my mind to keep it and give it to someone who could use it or maybe recoup the same half price to someone wanted it bad enough. So it matters how this is handled.
Walmart almost certainly is going to accept returns to the store for these sorts of events. I would even pay a 10% re-stocking fee for special orders. But half the price? There is a Walmart in every sleepy burgh from the Appalachians to the Sangre de Cristos. This becomes a huge bonus for contractors and customers who are further than the typical 20 mile radius of most major metros. Time, aggravation, and plain don’t want to drive back into the metro for a return all factor into this. Again, this would take very careful execution by Walmart. Still, I am for these companies at least trying and it looks like they are. I doubt I will see Wright Tool or Knipex but who knows? They may surprise us yet.
You said “When I clicked return and started the process, I was going to pay nearly 50% of the price to return it.”
I’ve a question for you. I’ve been a Amazon Prime member since it’s inception and in the course 250+ orders a year average (business and fun) I return maybe 10 items a year.
All kinds of reasons. And I’ve never paid a dime for any returns ever. UPS or USPS.
So I’m not sure what you’re speaking about.
Amazon will charge you return shipping if you just do not want an item. You have to pick an appropriate reason to get free return i.e. broken (which may or may not be the truth) to qualify even as a Prime member.
Yes, but it’s also discounted shipping.
I bought something and it dropped in price by $50. They wouldn’t give me a price adjustment. I hadn’t opened it yet, so I ordered another and returned the first with “I don’t want it” reasoning. I ended up still saving $42 ahead.
If I had to pay return shipping, it would have been a $20 hit instead of $8.
Unless the item is
– broken / damaged in transit
– DOA / defective / does not work
– had a signifcant error in the listing or is different in some aspect compared to advertised ( we had a grey rug that is actually blue )
– and perhaps another option I have not used
> the customer pays the return shipping to AMZ.
So, if you changed your mind, something is merely bigger than you thought, you ordered two items to pick between two, … it will cost a few dollars and up, depending on size and weight, to return an item.
Jim, look to Bill’s answer below. I have never returned anything on Amazon and I am a Prime member so I don’t know if it makes a difference. I was pretty stunned by the amount. It was not a huge price to begin with. Around 30 dollarsmI believe. The return was inded going to be 50% of the price. Who knows? It may have been supplied by a third party but I am pretty sure it Amazon direct.
I guess I should have said Billy’s answer above.
Since we’re talking anecdotes, I bought a mattress via amazon. One of those fancy new “purple/casper/whatever” mattresses.
It was terrible.
Called to return, and they apologized for it being so unsatisfactory, and basically said they can ship a box for return, but would rather we just recycle it locally.
So, they refunded the money and gave us a small credit for doing the legwork to recycle it.
If you just simply don’t want something anymore, I’m not sure why any retailer would eat the cost of your change of heart.
For the first time in all the years I have been doing business with Amazon this year I have had to try and return three items, the first an accessory for a wheelchair I bought, the return was booked and despite several chasers they did not collect it, I then spoke to customer services and they instantly said they would refund and I could keep or donate the item. The second return was flawless. The third was the same as the first except I only waited forty eight hours before calling customer services. I am aware that other people have had a similar response. It would seem that the customer service team is making decisions on failed collections based on value of the item vs the aggro factor in collecting it, this is obviously open to abuse but does constitute good customer relations.
We always believed in empowering our employees to make decisions that fell within their purview of expertise and fiscal responsibility. Most of the time these on-the spot decisions were positive learning moments for the entire organization – but once in a while we did have some alternative learning. We’d always caution about “betting the company” on the spur of the moment – but tried to encourage and reward folks to exceed customer expectations – or even better delighted them. We were never the bottom of the market – nor did we work on the slim margins characteristic of some retail businesses – so maybe we had more leeway than most – but it worked out for us.
As usual a good point, you mention alternative learning experiences I thin I had one of those. I returned to my family’s construction business after a thirty plus year absence in an employed role (I was expected to be available for questions always) and shortly afterwards I went to a client meeting with my father (should have been the first clue) the client team started listing complaints and no response from my father (should have been the second clue) after they had been speaking for a while he said “sorry to interrupt however this man here will solve all your problems” and pointed at me. The client CEO asked how will he do that? Father’s response “because he is the most ruthless bastard I know and he will do whatever it takes, so now everything is sorted out I need to leave, goodbye” and he left before anyone else spoke. The client team took it better than I expected.
They have a long uphill climb ahead of them. I avoid the stores for obvious reasons. I avoid the site because it’s cluttered with questionable 3rd party listings. And I’m skeptical that their definition of pro is the same as mine. So, while I have a sizable budget for tools, they will have to try hard to lure me away from my usual sources. I don’t see it happening.
1. Provide good quality American (Wright, Proto, SK) and European tools at good prices. Offer some deals to get us to keep coming back
2. Do the exact opposite of what Sears did. Focus on why we all used to love going to Sears, twenty years ago.
I’d be skeptical of any so-called “pro tools experience” from wallyworld.
Maybe if they’re partnering with Stanley Black & Decker to release more Bostich/Dewalt/Porter+Cable/Craftsman items on their site, that might be sort of a pro tool experience, but my guess is it’s more of a third party portal and they are just going to be pushing more stuff from other sites like Zoro than they already do.
I have been kind of impressed that the actual local store is now stocking more and more Chervon Hyper Tough 20V tools to replace all the Skil items, more Waterloo boxes branded as Hyper Tough, the Wilde USA-made prybars the same as Craftsman, really not too bad as far as entry level stuff is concerned.
It might make a lot of sense for walmart to sell the way more expensive “pro” tools online and just stick to the less expensive stuff in-store, but I have little faith in walmart’s ability to deliver a premium buying experience for anything, whether it’s tools or toenail clippers.
This will be much more popular in the south, where WMs are much more attractive stores. Northern stores are generally run down, and avoided by most consumers. Between beat up stores, and zombie employees who don’t care or have any knowledge whatsoever, pickups or returns are an exercise in stupidity.
Further, they have the barriers against the real pros, who order from HD or Lowes because they can pick up an item and lumber, fasteners, whatever. Just being able to buy tools at a slightly cheaper rate will be geared for prosumers more than anything.
That is if they clean up their web portal, get rid of resellers using their website, and create a staff that has some idea about pickups/returns/etc.
Price matching specialist retailers with slick websites and a variety of delivery options from free to in some cases same day, these exist in the UK and I am sure must exist in the USA, these are the suppliers I use when I am purchasing tools for my business and for myself. Tesco (UK equivalent of Wal-Mart sell tools) but unless I needed a tool at 04:00 I would not go there. I can understand why a retailer seeks to expand into a new sector but with price matching and product knowledge available elsewhere I do not understand why business users would be interested. This is not a case where buying power will work in anything other than the shortest of terms and will result in opportunistic purchasing only. Even without price matching where I am making a decision to purchase expensive or must not fail tools the ability to have a conversation not with a sales person but the person who is in charge of returns and warranty repairs is a major plus point. I would like to be a fly on the wall when the discussion takes place between Wal-mart and Festool I suspect it will be short. Also they include Dremel and Kreg both of which I use personally neither of which I have ever been asked to authorise the purchase of in a business environment.
Maybe Wal-Mart just wants to compete or establish a better presence in the pro tool-buying market. But I can think of more Machiavellian motives. They are an organization that knows about predatory buying and selling practices. If they can establish themselves as the big gorilla in some parts of the tool business – then they might be able to demand exclusive or better deals from some manufactures than can be obtained by their competitors. Home Depot seems to do this with TTI – often selling “special buys” on Ryobi and Milwaukee tools (and/or combi kits) that you can not find a price match elsewhere.
I am aware that Wal Mart like all big supermarket chains understands pricing and sales psychology they are in the process of trying to exit the UK market by selling their subsidiary the current second/third largest to the other second/third largest chain. The problem certainly in the UK is that the big box stores with their “trade orientated” in store separate shops and in the case of B&Q a 600 shop chain and a Google dominating website called Screwfix also trade orientated but mainly sole trader, plus the specialist tool suppliers all of whom have a constant stream of special offers on all the common tools from the usual suspects Bosch, DeWalt, Makita, Milwaukee that one of the reasons I buy Metabo for myself is that I got fed up of seeing a tool I bought 30% cheaper the next day somewhere else for twelve hours only. I doubt the market in the USA is any less developed and cannot understand why Wal Mart thinks this is a good idea particularly on an Internet basis. Screwfix started off as a catalogue based telephone ordering company early onto the Internet however it only really started to grow when it started opening shops. Tradespeople like shops it gives them somewhere to meet like minded folk.
I haven’t shopped at Walmart locally in a couple of decades. Dirty stores with horrible customer service. Also, they ruined local businesses in two small towns where close family live, and I’m forced to (grudgingly) shop there when I visit. They don’t have a quality reputation. I wondered if their pro tools would be like Harbor Freight “pro tools.” But there are some good brands at the posted link, though not all of them pro. I’m a hobbyist/diyer, so most of those I’d consider. But “Skilsaw made especially for Walmart” does not appeal.
Despite the drawbacks, I’d consider their website if it was some kind of revolutionary website with an excellent search experience. Amazon used to have such a website, but it’s deteriorated, plus fake reviews. On AZ I can search for an exact name and still have to scroll through a bunch of irrelevancy to find the exact item further down in the list, or even on a second page. I’ll still use Amazon because of their return policy but if something better turned up I’d try it. Ebay is mostly a lost cause with overpriced items. No power tool bargains there, plus warranty?
Sears/Craftsman is a gamble and certainly I’m not inclined to buy any Craftsman for a long time, probably never. Will C-man be Lowe’s demise? Sears/Craftsman is leaving a vacuum and perhaps Lowe’s will follow. These mega companies and people like Fast/Greedy Eddie have been ruining the industry/quality we once had. If steel prices and other raw materials rise a lot, there’s another glitch in the system. If Walmart is poised to fill in some of the blanks, they may have a chance, since there are diminishingly good choices. There’s a state of flux going on.
If Walmart focuses on quality tools, decent service, have a good website not filled with confusion and garbage, they may become desirable. Who knows?
I hope they do exactly as they’re doing now. If so, I won’t need to visit–I won’t be tempted. I haven’t been to Wallie World for at least 5 yrs (maybe more?).
If, due to some weird ‘grand conjunctivitis of the planets’ kind of thing happens, and they start selling, uhmm, Stahlwille, or Snap-on, then I will be most sorely distressed.
Will there be a tool department-specific cheer, you think?
Reminds me of the failed Bostitch Tool line at Walmart.
On topic, I would like;
-An easy to navigate website
-Website that allows me to easily narrow my search
-Website that does not allow a bunch of sponsored ads to clutter things up
-A broad selection of good brands that allow more one stop shopping
-A site that has hand tools as well as power tools plus power tool accessories
-Specialty tools for automotive, electrical and plumbing would be nice also
-A site that does not carry literally no name junk like I see on Amazon
If they can do that, I will certainly add that to my list of sites I check when looking for tools.
Mr. Potato Wedge
I will stop reading this website if Walmart gets involved, sorry.
More on topic, I would like to see:
(1) Better customer service.
(2) No 3rd party ads.
(3) Graph the price fluctuation over time (e.g. https://camelcamelcamel.com) instead of embedding that silly Walmart “Rollback” icon.
(4) Don’t price match. Let me break it down for you: guys, you’re going to have to beat Amazon’s prices. After all, that’s your business model, right? Make it happen, even it’s just for volume level purchases.
(5) I would rather pick up the tools at my local Sam’s Club (cleaner store, safer locations). Since Walmart is the parent company of Sam’s Club, make it happen.
(6) In fact, let’s take WalMart out of the picture altogether. I think the Sam’s Club brand is better positioned to facilitate a PRO tool brand initiative like this . . . if at all. Since Sam’s Club customers have to pay for a membership, these same people may be the better target audience, especially for a higher end market segment like this. Why sell one Knippex pliers through a company like Walmart that already has a serious brand image problem when instead you can sell a 2-pack of Knipex pliers through your volume market warehouse?
When Costco first opened in the UK one of their big selling points was their range of all priced tools, go into one now and the tool section has shrunk to nothing, there is just too much opposition for a general retailer to survive.
As part of restructuring at the beginning of this year, Sam’s Club closed quite a few of their stores. It turns out that their business strategy was not to close them permanently, but rather to transform them into “eCommerce fulfillment centers”. As such, these fulfillment centers may be what Walmart is planning to use more as part of their online strategy to compete with the likes of Amazon.
And the first Sam’s Club eCommerce Fulfillment Center has already opened in Memphis, TN. Others are slated to go online soon.
Formal announcement here:
@Redcastle, the same thing happened with Costco here in the U.S. At the start, they had some excellent tools, good brands and good prices, both power and hand tools. Then some off-brands but still good prices. This dwindled over time, and now there’s nothing I’d buy in their tool department except one of their dollies or stud finders.
It seems like tools didn’t work for them, not sure if it will work for Sam’s club or Walmart. Our local Sam’s club store is dirty and gross, like the local Walmart. The local Costco is clean, with excellent service and many good products. Just not a good place to buy tools.