Walmart Bets on Line-Busting Checkout and Digital Store Maps to Win Holiday Season
Walmart (WMT) is hoping smoother, faster service will help it stand out in the upcoming holiday season.
The retailer said on Tuesday it was introducing a new “Check out with Me” feature that will let shoppers bypass the checkout lines and pay for items in some areas of the store where they are shopping. Store workers will be equipped with devices to enable that “line-busting.” In past years, long lines to checkout have been a pain point for Walmart, which has typically staffed more cash registers to address the irritant.
The company, looking for a repeat of its strong 2017 holiday season at the busiest time of year for any retailer, is also introducing on its app digital maps that give shoppers the exact location of products, to help them get around the store more easily. The plans for Walmart’s holiday season strategy were announced at a media briefing.
Though Walmart had a stellar holiday season last year, it missed out on some online sales because it ran short of items. However, chief merchant Steve Bratspies said he is comfortable with inventory levels heading into the season this year, which begins in earnest later this week.
The company is banking on a much wider variety of goods than last year on what it says is an improved website. Walmart has added over 2,000 brands online, said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart e-commerce, U.S. Those include things like the monthly Ellen’s List from talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, he said.
Walmart will again offer free two-day shipping on orders over $35, something that will encompass the majority of online orders, and the company has extended that to items sold by its third-party marketplace sellers. It won’t, however, match Target (TGT), which last week in a salvo at Walmart and Amazon said it would will offer free two-day shipping from Nov. 1 to Dec. 22 with no order minimum or membership.
The three retailers are also planning on fighting hard this holiday for the spoils left over from Toys ‘R’ Us, which has left $4 billion in toy sales up for grabs. Two months ago, Walmart said it would add 30% percent more new toys to its stores and 40% on line.