by Max Brantley
NY Times feature today reports on a new blog established by Wal-Mart on which its buyers give unvarnished assessments of products competing for floor space at the retailer.
Corporate blogs are nothing new — General Motors, Dell and Boeing have them — but Wal-Mart’s site, called Check Out (checkoutblog.com), turns the traditional model on its head. Instead of relying on polished high-level executives, it is written by little-known buyers, largely without editing.
The result is an intensely personal window into the lives, preferences and quirks of the powerful tastemakers at Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest retailer, who have spent years shielded from public view.
Their decisions about what makes it onto Wal-Mart’s shelves have enormous impact, earning (or costing) vendors millions of dollars. It was a blogger on the Check Out, after all, who first disclosed last month that Wal-Mart would stock only high-definition DVDs and players using the Blu-ray format, rather than the rival HD DVD system. The decision was considered the death knell for HD DVD.