Wal-Mart moves in for the kill in electronics

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Wal-Mart (WMT) has a history of disrupting industries by entering them with low pricing and broad offerings. The $4 prescription is one recent example.

The world's largest retailer is now looking at the Best Buy (BBY) and Amazon (AMZN) electronics franchises and wants a piece of their pie. But the two companies may not be such pushovers.

According toThe Wall Street Journal, "Wal-Mart's roomier and more interactive electronics displays begin arriving in stores Monday, showcasing the latest mobile phones and portable computers." The move may prove fruitless.

Wal-Mart cannot match the number of employees that Best Buy has who are experts in consumer electronics. Most of the staff in its stores is trained to handle shoppers who are looking for TVs and PCs and nothing else. Marketing complex and expensive products may rely on well-trained workers that Wal-Mart doesn't have.

Amazon has the advantage of being one of the most visited web sites in the world. Match that with an inventory that most stores cannot provide because of shelf space and the massive e-commerce site offers extraordinary product diversity and low prices.

Wal-Mart may have more stores and a larger number of customers than consumer electronics retailers can match, but it is still considered a seller of low-priced goods that are unlikely to lure middle class shoppers. That means its efforts to compete against Best Buy are doomed from the start.

Douglas A. McIntyre is an editor at 24/7 Wall St.


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