For the majority of the history of shopping, the way to get goods was to march your way over to the retailer (or in the case of door to door salesmen, have them march their way to you) and to exchange your cash for their goods. This eventually gave way to checks and even credit cards, which is less of a way to directly pay a merchant than to have an intermediate party pay the merchant on your behalf. All of this was turned on its head when stores began selling their merchandise online and you at no point had to have any interaction with human beings.
The issue that some people have with this is that they are not interested in owning credit cards or even debit cards and do all of their interactions with cold hard cash. Of course, there is no way to put your cash into your computer and pay for your online shopping — or at least there hasn’t been a way until now.
Wal-Mart is trying to lure shoppers who would love to shop online but aren’t interested in paying with anything other than cash by offering a new online program that will let them pay exactly how they want. Essentially, a person goes to the Wal-Mart web site and selects the items that they wish to order. They check out and then proceed to their local Wal-Mart brick and mortar store where they pay for their order with cash. As soon as they hand over the money, the cashier inputs this into their computer and the order is finalized.
My initial thought was that this seems a bit absurd — if the person has the cash and they have already taken the time to go all the way to the store, why wouldn’t they just purchase the things they wanted then and there? I then remembered what happened regularly when I was working at Wal-Mart in 1997 — we did not have any way to control how much of any item would come in and when we sold out, subsequent people who wished to have the item would have to slink away disappointed.
I only hope that other stores consider taking on this model as I am not much of a Wal-Mart shopper. I love the simplicity of the business model — if you have the cash to buy what you want, you can buy it. If not, you have to save up the money to buy it — and you can avoid getting buried in debt as well.