How Wal-Mart sells CDs

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Bradley Werner has an article over at iMedia Connection titled “The Wal-Mart Model for Video Advertising,” but what caught my attention was a section where he writes about how Wal Mart sells CDs.

Recently, a colleague was telling me how a few years ago, Wal-Mart installed machines in all their music departments that allowed customers to listen to the CDs they were interested in before making a purchase.

Customers needed merely to bring the CD to the machine, put on the attached headphones, scan the CD and listen to whatever tracks they chose.

As a consultant for Wal-Mart at the time, my colleague asked an executive why, if all the CDs were already in their database and accessible by search, the machines required users to actually scan the CDs.

“Wouldn’t it make sense to have all the CDs available through the touchscreen?”

“Nope. Once those CDs are in our customers’ hands,” said the Wal-Mart executive, “they’re half-way to the cart. This system helps get the CDs in their hands.”

Wal-Mart, or at least the inventor of those machines, knew how to interact with people. When it comes to online video, we too need to know people.

Makes you wonder if we sometimes make things much to easy on the internet? It seems to me that the lesson here is that the key to effective interaction is to understand human behavior.

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