How Walmart Lost $1.85 Billion by Listening to Customers

In 2009, Walmart, in its quest to compete with Target, asked its customers a simple question: “Would you like Walmart to be less cluttered?”
The answer was a resounding “yes”.

Walmart decided to launch “Project Impact”, a five-year plan aimed at improving the customer experience by reducing clutter and making the stores more aesthetically pleasing and easier to navigate.

However, this initiative resulted in a significant drop in sales, ultimately costing Walmart an estimated $1.85 billion.
While initial reports of customer satisfaction were positive, the strategy proved to be a failure.

What went wrong?
Some experts believe that by “decluttering”, Walmart lost sight of its primary focus of providing a wide range of low-priced merchandise.

This story can teach us four valuable lessons:
1. Instead of asking customers what they want, focus on what they actually do.
2. Avoid copying your competitors’ solutions. Instead, create solutions tailored to the specific needs of your customers.
3. When conducting customer interviews, avoid asking “yes/no” or leading questions that limit their responses.
4. Don’t survey customers with preconceived notions of their answers, or you’re likely to run into confirmation bias.