BENTONVILLE, Ark. – To get its share of holiday cash, Walmart has tripled its online selections to 60 million items, added free two-day shipping for orders over $35, included discounts for online orders retrieved at stores, and even announced in-store parties.
Walmart plans to throw three themed parties at its stores (for a total of 20,000 parties chain-wide) that will include product demonstrations where customers will be able to test holiday items.
It will also add dedicated “Holiday Helpers” to help customers find short checkout lines and grab items they might have forgotten.
For merchandising, Walmart is adding more products both in-store and online – promising availability of hot items throughout the season along with price discounts on “thousands of items.”
“We launched some really powerful things for customers this year with free two-day shipping and the pickup discount,” said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S. e-commerce. “These programs will be playing a big role during the holiday season.”
Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer at Walmart, said the retailer is buying “as much inventory as we think we can handle and sell … we think we are in a really strong position.”
Not to be outdone, Amazon opened its “Black Friday Store,” a micro-site that features holiday deals across all categories with more than 100 million discounted items eligible for free shipping. The deals will be available until Black Friday, Nov. 24.
Amazon is also making mobile purchases easier with a new augmented reality service called “AR view” that lets customers visualize how household items such as furniture and home décor might look in their living spaces.
Amazon may be the current online price leader, but Walmart is eating into that lead. A new report from Profitero says while Amazon’s prices used to be 11-percent lower than Walmart, Walmart’s current prices were found to be only 3-percent more expensive on average than Amazon across all categories studied.