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October 20, 2012

People Greeters at Walmart - A Dead concept

Sam Walton first saw a greeter at a small Wal-Mart in Louisiana in 1980. The greeter, explained to Walton that he had a "dual purpose” - to make people feel good about coming in, and to make sure people weren't walking back out the entrance with merchandising items  they hadn't paid for." The manager of that Louisiana Wal-Mart store was trying to reduce shrinkage at the store -- shop-lifting.

Walton was very fascinated with the double-agent role of the greeter: the 'hello' coming in, the 'cop' going out.

Sam Walton himself did not talk much publicly about the cop side of the greeters. Wal-Mart later used the concept of greeters to give employment to sections of people who can’t find employment easily. Many retirees and ex-servicemen found jobs as “people greeters”. This later was extended to under privileged and disadvantaged groups including the senior citizens.

But now the fun apparently is over. Sam Walton's "greatest idea" is dead -- apparently a victim of the recession -- several thousand greeters are coming in from the cold outside, to circulate around inside the store, helping customers find the products of their choice, and other useful functions.

Thus ends the 32 year run of the Greeter. Most shoppers at Wal-Mart understood that the smiley folks in the vest with "How May I Help You?" on the back were just disguised members of the loss prevention team at Wal-Mart -- a reminder that cheap goods not only attract shoppers, they attract criminals as well.

1 comment:

  1. It is absorbing to read about such marketing concepts which are even difficult to find and understand in books. Marketing study actually made easy!!