Strategy also calls for low prices, special deals
BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart said it will rely on additional customer service, in the form of “an army of Holiday Helpers” who will help customers move through the checkout line, as well as on low prices and additional merchandise, to drive sales during the upcoming holiday shopping season.
The retailer said Thursday that it has dramatically increased the amount of merchandise available through its Pickup service, has rolled back prices on thousands of items, and will add millions of items to Walmart.com in the coming months.
“We are listening to our customers and looking for ways to simplify their busy lives,” Walmart U.S. chief operating officer Judith McKenna said in a statement. “Whether our customers are checking items off their grocery lists or their kids’ holiday lists, we want to make their shopping experiences easy and fun. This includes having clean, fast and friendly stores, an easier check out experience and enabling customers to shop seamlessly through services like Pickup.”
Walmart’s moves are designed to ensure that it gets its share of what the National Retail Federation is forecasting to be a strong holiday season.
The retailer said its Holiday Helpers — extra employees armed with candy canes and smiles — will be in stores beginning on November 4. Their mission will be to assist customers at the checkout, helping them find the shortest line, open additional registers when they are needed and even quickly grabbing items that customers might have forgotten. Walmart said its stores will increase the number of Holiday Helpers on hand during peak shopping times.
Walmart also plans to deploy additional staff to its store pickup operations during the holiday season, when same-day pickup orders can increase five-fold compared to a normal week. To accommodate those shoppers who want to order items online and pick them up at the store, Walmart has expanded the assortment available for pickup, making tens of thousands of new items in such categories as apparel, seasonal décor, toys, and electronics available for same-day pickup. Walmart said it is also adding a dedicated pickup manager in every store for the first time.
Exclusive merchandise and compelling deals will be another key part of Walmart’s strategy for the holidays, the company said. That includes exclusive products in every category — from an exclusive Disney Princess Carriage and a 3D Virtual Reality Drone to ugly Christmas sweaters —and deals like a new Roku 32-inch HDTV for $125 in November and December.
“I can’t remember another year when I’ve been this excited about the merchandise we are offering customers,” said Walmart U.S. chief merchandising officer Steve Bratspies. “It’s not just about one category or one item. Our whole store is going to be stocked with new, exciting items from hot toys to new electronics available at the best prices. We will win the season on price, from the first weekend in November to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and through those final weeks in December.”
Walmart reported that it has substantially increased its online assortment from about 8 million items at the start of this year to 20 million today, and the company added that millions of additional items scheduled to be added in the coming months. The retailer said it is also making its broader assortment easier to shop. Starting November 1, Walmart.com will feature a top 20 list of items that will highlight exclusive offerings, great prices and unexpected products.