Select Walmart stores in North America have set up water test kiosks to enable customers to bring in a water sample and have it analyzed for prescriptive water maintenance. The system is meant to mimic the water testing offered by pool and spa retailers, offering customers computerized guidance on what chemicals to buy and add in order to achieve balanced water.
Information thus far has been anecdotal — reports from industry professionals who encountered the water testing stations firsthand in Pennsylvania, Indiana and California. Walmart has not released information on the number of stores nationwide that have installed the test kiosks.
Water testing has long been a major component of the dealer’s advantage over Internet and big box retailers, part of the package of expertise that separates the professional pool store from the mass merchant. By offering water testing along with low-priced chemicals, Walmart is trying to cut into the still-substantial chemical trade that runs through pool and spa retail companies.
There are enormous differences, however, between the Walmart kiosk and the typical pool and spa store water test counter.
Walmart’s water testing kiosks feature a set of instructions a customer must read, understand and accurately follow —independently of trained help, as these kiosks are unmanned.
A typical pool and spa retailer offers a much more customer-friendly system, where a water maintenance professional tests the water and supplies expert advice on chemical application.