How Google Is Contributing To The “Walmartization” Of The World

Out of BusinessI walk in.

There’s usually a quaint little bell that rings when I open the door. I take in the shabby rows of mismatched chairs.

I smell the exotic spices wafting in from the clearly visible kitchen. I look to make sure the plastic flowers are proudly arranged in their little glass vases at every table.

The waiter walks towards me with a tantalizing menu. I’ve never heard of at least half of the dishes.

I have arrived!

The thrill of going where no friends have gone before… Trying dishes I’ve never dreamed existed… Dreaming of visiting far away countries… That’s what walking into a non-chain restaurant feels like to me.

It seems to me that with the move towards favoring big brands, Google is taking this away from me.

I don’t like Walmart or Costco or chain restaurants. It’s too hard to get help at Walmart, and too easy to spend more money than I care to at Costco.  I don’t like that I can have the same food at Chili’s in Colorado and Connecticut.

If there were any Mom & Pop grocery stores left in my city, I’d be their best customer.  But there literally isn’t even one.  I’ve spent a bunch of time traveling around the Western states, and I’ve seen too many quaint little villages ravaged by Walmart when they come to town.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt said this:  “The Internet is fast becoming a “cesspool” where false information thrives. Brands are the solution, not the problem.  Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”   

I couldn’t disagree more.  Brands aren’t the solution unless they want us to all be the same.

I’m concerned about a trend I’m seeing where, increasingly, everybody in the world eats at the same restaurants, and shops at the same places.  The more we do this, the more of our uniqueness we lose.

Pretty soon, we’ll all be wearing the same clothes and eating the same food. We’ll all look and sound the same.  No need to travel anywhere because everywhere will be the same. There will be a McDonalds on literally every corner and a Walmart in the center of every town. We’ll shop at Amazon.

Google, please don’t take away my “non-chain” experience.

I LIKE mom & pop stores, online and off.

 

 


                        
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16 Responses to “How Google Is Contributing To The “Walmartization” Of The World”

  1. Wow Andrea… Bravo for sharing your thoughts. Unfortunately retailers like Wal-Mart have taught shoppers that cheap is the only way to go.

    Mass production leads to lower prices. However many times, mass production means less choices. So yes, many will be wearing similar brands jeans and tees, eating off the dollar menu and shopping at W-M because we’ve been programmed to be cheap.

    Should we support smaller stores that are unique? Absolutely, but the masses like their comfort zones. Micky Dee’s built an empire with the notion that a burger in Los Angeles would taste the same way in New York City. Back in the day, everyone knew what size Levi 501′s they wore and didn’t have to try on a pair at the store.

    Can we have it both ways? I think so, but the smaller businesses have to find a way to offer a better experience (however that’s defined in the shoppers mind) than the potential buyer can get at a big boxes.

  2. That’s a perfect answer, Ed: “…find a way to offer a better experience…”

    A great example of this I saw today is http://www.dollarshaveclub.com. They have a very entertaining video, a simple product, and they make it a no-brainer to join. And they’re not Walmart or Amazon. I think they offer a great experience.

    In my mind, differentiation seems like a much more reasonable challenge than “Can small businesses even begin to compete against the big brands?” It should be at least possible for folks like you.

    Thanks for your thoughts, dude!

  3. Great words, Andrea

    But, they’ll tell us that ‘market forces’ drive the evolution of shopping and eating. And we all know it’s cr*p. They give us what is easier to give us and we get what we are given.

    Let me know when you start the revolution.

    Jon

  4. I’ve already started, Jon. :)

    Viva La Revolución!

  5. I’ve been clamoring on for years about how the internet creates diversity. That we can all shop in little niches that could never be supported on a retail shelf that has to make a required profit on every square inch of shelf space. That’s what the internet is about I used to say.

    Apparently Google disagrees.

    Great point Andrea.

  6. Andrea – I couldn’t agree more. I dig and search for that local joint where they are happy to see you – and remember you when you visit again.

    Further, for those of us non-brands in the “ecommerce cesspool” I’d dare some of the big box brands to match our level of support, knowledge, and service after the sale we offer to our customers.
    http://www.aperfectwallet.com/satisfaction.html

    We are in the revolution with you my friend!

    Michelle

  7. This should make you feel better about the whole walmart thing…

    http://youtu.be/ghrDIQ-K8mg

  8. Hi Andrea, great post! I couldn’t agree more, it feels to me like I’m driving through Orange County in Southern California, where all you see are big box stores. And it seems like that there is nothing wrong with that on the outskirt but small business are shutting down because they cannot compete, its difficult to scale and with the high cost of doing business especially in Ca, it just doesn’t make sense.

    You know the next BIG squeeze to small business owners is the Internet Sales Tax that is being discuss now in Congress.

    This is KILL all small business doing less than $2M. It seems like $2M is alot of money but not if you’re a etailer. You’ll be lucky to eeke out a living with the competitive environment unless your are producing your own stuff or you control the goods.

    If the sales tax gets incorporated, its going to make accounting management that much harder for a small etailer and will minimally cost them another $60K-$100K just to be in compliance.

    Spread the word!

  9. Thanks for your comments. It’s hard to watch my friends suffer!

  10. Don, make it stop! Haha

  11. Don … that was painful, odd, and entertaining all at the same time. Now I am even MORE AFRAID of WAL-MART.

  12. I agree… the way Google is heading is only showing brand results and making it harder for the mom and pop stores to show up at all in the search engines… forcing them to use pay per click.. hmmm.

  13. Hey Andrea, great post.

    It’s the same here in the UK.

    Your story reminds my of something out the movie “The Island”… where everyone is forced to wear the same clothes and “fall in line”.

    It’s sad to see big brands often using their economies of scale to bully the little guys out of business.

    A friend of mine owns a family run restaurant in the UK and is practically going under due to the big companies setting up right next door.

    Bring on the “long tail” of choice and uniqueness! :)

  14. Hi Andrea,

    Excuse the spelling mistakes above, I was power typing. :)

    I meant “Your story reminds me of something out of the movie…”

  15. Thank YOU Andrea … as an owner of a small website I understand where you are coming from … with the latest “bird” update from Master Google I lost 60% of my traffic …with it lots of income.
    The first time I read the phrase coined by Google “do no evil” I thought cool someone who cares… pfft not sure about that anymore.
    I also thought that Google’s main focus was about the customers experience… I have 1000′s of customer that have had a wonderful experience and have sent testimonials to proclaim their experience.
    Anyway … so must for the “brand” rant.. at least I know there is ONE other person on this planet that thinks like I do when it comes to the “brand”.
    Thank you again for the insight….

  16. Thanks for your insightful comments, guys.