First of all, Walmart is shifting aggressively from being brick & mortar to a leading ecommerce player. It upgraded its online website and has made acquisitions of seasoned online businesses.
The most recent has been a 77% stake in Indian ecommerce company Flipkart. The deal, which received regulatory approval, was completed last August. Flipkart controls almost 40% of the Indian market for ecommerce. Its primary offering is consumer electronics.
Secondly, as with the business model Amazon managed brilliantly, Walmart has begun to sacrifice profits for market share. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Walmart forecasted lower profits because it had invested $16 billion in the Flipkart acquisition.
Earlier Walmart had acquired online businesses in plus-size fashions and lingerie. In the grocery niche it is piloting Click & Collect. Since we hate shopping for groceries, that could turn into Walmart's signature ecommerce service.
Given that Walmart is a trusted value brand, it could evolve into a formidable Amazon competitor. The day could soon come when someone wanting to order X will go to the Walmart ecommerce site, not the Amazon one.
That's the new game: going directly to the big store in cyberspace, instead of keying in X on search engines to find out what firm is selling it. The day could come when search engines essentially become irrelevant.
The implications for legal marketing are obvious. Law firms have to establish a presence so that prospects needing representation in, for example public nuisance law, go directly to their website. They do not key in "public nuisance lawyers" on a search engine.
For me that has already become the way I make actual purchases. Old-fashioned "shopping around," in a sense, is over. When I decided on setting up a home gym I clicked on Walmart's ecommerce site. Because I have had a good experience with its merchandise, price, and return policy I did not compare its offerings with those of other online vendors by keying in on a search engine terms like "stationary bike."
Informally, I have interviewed check-out clerks at the Walmart brick & mortar in Austintown, Ohio. All were prepared for their jobs to be reconfigured. They anticipated being in some back room processing orders and answering questions as ecommerce customer service representatives.
Come about 9 P.M. and until about 7 A.M. in Walmart Austintown the lanes with human check-out clerks are shut down. Only the self-service section is open. However, there is usually a human on standby to help with the self-service technology or to manually check out those who are tech-challenged.
The war between Walmart and Amazon could change what we expect in ecommerce. Competition has a track record for creating disruption. Microsoft undid IBM - and what would become standard in the PC industry.
The stepped-up competition among law firms, globally, can significantly revise how the players create their presence. The emerging reality could be the elimination of comparison shopping. For that reason, the website becomes increasingly important in marketing. And, what has to be featured are outcomes. Not credentials. Or experience. The landing page should hammer that plaintiff law firm ABC settled or won verdicts totally $7.3 billion in the past 3 years.
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