The news that Wal-Mart is getting into the car-insurance business begs the question: Is there anything that the world’s largest retailer doesn’t hawk?
Surprisingly, the answer is plenty.
You can find food, meds and toys for your dog Rover at Wal-Mart, but chances are you didn’t buy your pet there. By the same token, you can pick up a wedding veil at Wal-Mart, but not a traditional white wedding gown. And there are plenty of battery-powered cars for kids at Wal-Mart, but no life-size versions for grown-ups.
All that could change someday.
Wal-Mart says that almost anything is possible, as it pushes to cement its reputation as a place where shoppers can stop in for grocery staples like milk and eggs and also cross off a number of other things on their “To-Do” lists. In keeping with the vision of its founder Sam Walton, Wal-Mart continues to look to expand its offerings of products and services at lower prices than its competitors.
Analysts say the pressure to expand its offerings is only intensifying as Wal-Mart continues to face competition from online rival Amazon.com, which is expanding into new products and services.
“We are all about one-stop shopping,” says Deisha Barnett, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
In auto insurance, Wal-Mart hooked up with a new site called AutoInsurance.com that lets shoppers quickly find and buy insurance policies online to cut down costs. That move comes just a few weeks after Wal-Mart launched a money-transfer service.
What other services could be on the horizon for the retail behemoth? Brian Sozzi, an equities strategist who follows Wal-Mart, believes the retailer will continue to focus on adding services.
The possibilities are endless. Shoppers can order caskets online from Wal-Mart, and they can even buy life insurance in 217 Wal-Mart stores. But they have to go elsewhere to arrange funeral services. And while customers can turn to Wal-Mart to help them file their taxes, they have to go elsewhere if they need assistance writing their will.
“Anything is fair game,” says Wal-Mart’s Barnett.