As Walmart gears up for the holidays, it is stepping up its customer experience — online and in store.
The retail giant on Wednesday unveiled a multi-pronged holiday strategy that emphasizes convenience, expanded assortments, price discounts, speedy deliveries — and in-store fun. Walmart said it will throw three themed parties at its stores (for a total of 20,000 parties chainwide) over the course of the season. At the parties, which will include product demonstrations, customers will be able to test (and, in some instances, taste) top holiday items.
The first party, called "Toys that Rock," will be held on Nov. 4 and be focused on toys. Kids can play with hot holiday toys and take selfies with Santa. The second themed event, on Dec. 2, will be dedicated to holiday entertaining. The third, on Dec. 16, will emphasize gift ideas.
In addition, for the second year, the discounter will have dedicated “Holiday Helpers” on site to help customers at the front-end find the shortest checkout, open registers, and grab items they might have forgotten. The company will increase the staffers, who are decked out with reindeer hats, during the busiest times of the season.
On the merchandise front, Walmart is expanding its product assortment in-stores and online, where it has more than tripled the number of products available this year as compared to last year. The discounter is bolstering up its assortment with more exclusives as well as brands new to it, including KitchenAid, Cuisinart and Yankee Candle. The chain promises deep availability of hot items, with products available in-stores and online throughout the season. And in what is sure to be a competitive season price wise, Walmart said it will offer price rollbacks on “thousands of items” throughout the season.
In other key holiday initiatives, Walmart is offering new incentives for online order deliveries, including making more than two million items available for free two-day shipping on orders over $35.
Holiday shoppers will also, for the first time, be able to take advantage of the chain's “Pickup Discount,” which provides additional savings on select items for online customers that buy online-only items and ship them to a Walmart store for free pickup. These services augment the discounter’s free Pickup Today service that enables shoppers to reserve items online to pick up in store on the same day.
“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.”
Walmart also has doubled its Online Grocery Pickup service locations since last holiday season. The service, which is now available at more than 1,100 locations, helps customers pick up online orders without getting out of their car.