As autumn approaches and families prepare to send their kids to school, these new services will be put to the test: Back-to-school season is the second-busiest time of the year for the retailer (behind only Christmas). The National Retail Federation is forecasting a particularly strong season, with total spending reaching $83.6 billion, up 10% from last year.
To prepare for the onslaught, Walmart unveiled new tools on Thursday. The company, which already allows customers to retrieve online grocery orders at some 800 of its U.S. stores, has expanded the service to include hundreds of back-to-school items like pens and notepads. Walmart will also integrate TeachersList, an online resource with more than 500,000 classroom lists, so customers can directly look up the school supplies they need to buy. Finally, the retailer will add extra in-store employees to assist customers at checkout, a strategy it said was successful at cutting down on wait times during the holiday season.
There’s a lot riding on the back-to-school season, particularly for mass merchants such as Walmart and Target (TGT). According to a Deloitte survey, 81% of parents say they plan to shop at such chains, a 24% increase from last year.