Walmart says it will join in the consumer push for the iPad this holiday season. But will the chain stores have an adequate buying experience for an unfamiliar computing form factor?
According to reports, Walmart will begin offering Apple's iPad in stores starting this Friday. While starting slowly in several hundred locations, the company reportedly said, it will stock all models of the iPad nationwide in 2,300 stores by the end of November.
Walmart will join Best Buy and Target in carrying the tablet device. Adding in the Apple Stores, the iPad will be available in more than 5,000 retail outlets by December.
Target in September announced that it would sell the iPad. However, a recent ifoAppleStore.com look at Target's store floor display for the iPad raises questions whether customers will find a satisfying buying experience in a general retail environment, one without a shred of education or hand holding.
The article points out that there's a vast distance between "carrying" the iPad and "the best buying experience in the world" of the Apple Store.
Around the corner, the iPad display is similarly unhelpful. A bold, eye-level graphic features an Apple logo and the word “iPad,” along with a large photo shows six iPads displaying various apps. What’s missing is an actual iPad. Below the graphic is a low cabinet with locked glass doors, and inside are boxed iPads with their prices displayed. The top of the cabinet is conspicuously empty of any iPads for customer handling, as they are at all Apple stores.
To the right of the iPad area is the iPod display, which also has Apple products behind locked cabinets.
Monitoring the iPad area for 30 minutes on a mid-Sunday afternoon, not a single customer approached the area to examine the displays or to ask a salesperson for assistance with the iPads. During the same hour, a nearby Best Buy store has several customers approaching its live display of iPads.
Ouch! Walmart has an opportunity here: To make Target look good. The ifoAppleStore analysis includes a number of interesting slides. Check it out.