Information Is Power

That is the tagline of the age we currently live. So, it should not be surprising that Wal-Mart is fearful of Google. Huh? you ask.

The New York Times has a piece today that lays out Walmart’s concern:

“We watch Google very closely at Wal-Mart,” said Jim Breyer, a member of Wal-Mart’s board. In Google, Wal-Mart sees both a technology pioneer and the seed of a threat, said Mr. Breyer, who is also a partner in a venture capital firm. The worry is that by making information available everywhere, Google might soon be able to tell Wal-Mart shoppers if better bargains are available nearby.

(emphasis mine)

We like Wal-Mart. Why? It provides goods cheaply to the eCache household. That is important to us. We suspect it does so because of volume purchasing. Others have contended it underpays its employees by keeping them as part-time employees and denying them benefits. We discredit this easily. A nephew of ours here is a college student. He works at Wal-Mart. He works all summer and on holidays he is available during his academic year. Wal-Mart considers him a full-time employee. He earns medical benefits and buys into the employee stock program. On top of that, he earns the Wal-Mart employee discount on purchases.

Our liking of Wal-Mart is because of what Wal-Mart provides us. If another store were able to provide better prices on the same goods, we would gladly shop there. As we have learned from grocery shopping, it needs to be better prices overall, not necessarily on any one item. We were shopping at three grocery stores for a while. Convenience is something we factor in. And around here, Wal-Mart’s convenience is certainly suspect as it is too small of a store for the community.

So, we are not surprised that Wal-Mart is keeping a close eye on Google. Information is power. Google provides information. If it can aggregate prices for the goods we are interested in purchasing and that information points to other stores than Wal-Mart, then the eCache household will shop there. Of course, Wal-Mart can thwart this. Just keep prices down. Everyone will be happy then.

(Hat tip to Slashdot for highlighting this story.)

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