Walmart China: Always The Low Price Last Week

This is just not Walmart's week for price management. On Tuesday (Sept. 25), a Walmart store in China was slapped with almost $16,000 in fines for a "discount hoax," according to China Daily. In May, the Walmart in Wuhan changed its price for a bottle of liquid soap from 47.6 to 48.8 yuan (a 19-cent increase), but called it a discount price. Not so, according to the local government price watchdog: "When the promotion price is higher than the traceable lowest price of the period of seven days before the campaign, it is a price fraud," said Zhang Jianmin, vice head of the Hubei Provincial Bureau of Commodity Price.

It may be true that what the Chinese call a hoax, everyone else calls marketing. But with 370 stores in China, Walmart should know how this game is played. And with its fanatical tracking of its own and competitors' prices, failing to catch this type of slip-up qualifies as an IT failure: Walmart China should have had price-change-checking logic in place to make sure the price first went up to 49 yuan for a week and then rolled it back to the "discount price" of 48.8. Otherwise, how will the Chinese know it's a Walmart?