It’s a high-tech holiday at Walmart — with an earlier-than-ever start to the season
Walmart is increasing the speed and convenience of holiday shopping with help from emerging technology. It’s also kicking off the season earlier than it ever has before.
The retail giant will launch its holiday shopping promotions online at midnight ET Friday, Oct. 25, with an early “Deals Drop.” (Special deals will be offered throughout the season.) The early start to the holiday comes as retailers are challenged by this year’s calendar which has six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
"The holidays at Walmart will officially begin this Friday at midnight," said Steve Bratspies, executive VP and chief merchandising officer, Walmart US, on a media call. In-store sales will start on November 1, he added.
In other holiday firsts, Walmart is offering free next-day delivery on “hundreds of thousands of eligible items.” In a dig at rival Amazon, the chain noted that the service has no membership fee.
In stores, Walmart is ramping up the entertainment factor for holiday shoppers. Beginning Nov. 2, Walmart will offer events throughout the holiday season, including host-themed events for three family-friendly movies: Pokémon, Star Wars and Frozen 2. And Santa will make stops at Walmart stores nationwide on Nov. 9 and Dec. 7.
The retailer is also offering four new omnichannel shopping services this holiday. These include:
• Gift finder: New this year, customers can search for gifts on Walmart.com with a digital gift finder tool that provides gift options for 40 different types of recipients. Customers provide information based on the recipient and their price range, and are served up personalized recommendations.
• Scannable toy catalog: For the first time, customers with iOS devices can use their phones to shop from the pages of Walmart’s seasonal toy catalog. Starting Nov. 1, this new digitized experience lets customers scan and shop hundreds of toys, including more than 150 exclusives, through the Walmart app.
• Expanded ‘Check Out With Me’: The “Check Out With Me” service is now available in all Walmart supercenters, allowing customers to avoid lines at the register and check out with an associate right where they are shopping in the store.
• Expanded DotCom Store: The DotCom Store, which is also now available in all Walmart supercenters, lets customers work with associates to place an online order directly from the store if the customer cannot find the item they’re shopping for. Items are then sent directly to the customer’s home or to their nearest Walmart store for pickup.