Which sounds more like your credit union?

Are you an Amazonian or a Walmartian?

It’s always interesting to compare credit unions to well-known “disruption” companies to see if there’s anything we can learn from their examples. Walmart and Amazon have massively disrupted retail, along with entire industries and communities. Love them or hate them (or both), their effect on the world has been huge. In addition, they are direct competitors in many ways, even though they have very different approaches to just about everything.*

I suspect a lot of credit unions are run by people who are secret Walmartians — there’s a relentless focus on offering and marketing the lowest possible prices and then cutting prices even more. Retail locations pop up constantly, costs are slashed wherever possible, and the overall goal is traffic — get the member to come to you for absolutely everything and anything, over and over again. Walmartians may win the race to the bottom most of the time, but to be honest, quality and service are only “just good enough.”

Or maybe the Amazonian approach is a better fit. Whatever people need, you get it in their hands pronto. People are happy to pay a $99/year fee to be in the “Prime” club because they get convenience and benefits worth many times the expense. You’re not always the cheapest, but everything is guaranteed — your service is famously great. If your business or your members need something that doesn’t exist, you build it.

In essence, Walmartians tend to favor quantity at the lowest cost, while Amazonians prefer their options combined with convenience. Which sounds more like your credit union?

What are you doing to reinforce (or change) that strategy?


*(Of course, you can say much the same about other disruptors — are you more an Appleite or a Microsoftian? What could you learn from a Zappolonian?)

Brian Wringer

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