Walmart adopts phased approach to Black Friday

Stewart Samuel
Program Director - Canada

Date : 16 October 2020

We look at how Walmart has evolved its plans for Black Friday this year, with a focus on providing customers with a safer and more convenient shopping experience.

A COVID-19 holiday season

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart is planning for a different holiday shopping experience this year. Last month, it announced that its stores would be closed on Thanksgiving Day, a day which the retailer typically sees strong evening traffic as it leads into Black Friday. This year, its plans are centred around meeting the increased demand for online shopping, evolving customer preferences and delivering a fast, easy and safe shopping experience.

Source: Walmart

Safety protocols

This year, Walmart will be spreading out its Black Friday deals across three events, compared to a traditional single-day event. The retailer is hopeful that this approach will be safer and more manageable for its customers and associates. Associates will hand out sanitised shopping carts to customers to help with social distancing, while 'Health Ambassadors' will be placed at entrances to greet customers and remind them to put on a mask. Customer numbers will also be monitored to reduce congestion and support social distancing.

Omnichannel strength

Each savings event will start online and continue in-store. Customers will also be able to use the retailer’s contact-free curbside pickup service for its Black Friday deals for the first time. Walmart is in the process of recruiting 20,000 seasonal associates within its ecommerce fulfillment centres to support the expected increase in demand. This is in addition to the 500,000 associates recruited since March across its stores and distribution network.

Events details

The first event will start on November 4 online, with deals in-store on November 7. Focus categories include toys, electronics and home. The second event, focused on TVs, computers and tablets, will start online on November 11, with deals in-store on November 14, while the third event, featuring electronics, toys and gifts will start online on November 25 and in-store on November 27 (Black Friday).

Benefits with this approach

Transitioning to a digital experience and phasing its deals brings several benefits. With Black Friday being one of retail’s busiest days, this approach will limit traffic. It also enables the retailer to bring new energy and excitement to the holiday replicating some of the success that retailers such as Alibaba, Shopee and Flipkart have achieved in Asia with events such as Singles Day, Online Shopping Day and Big Billion Days. Offering more deals online also builds on the trend of recent years as a greater proportion of Black Friday deals have been ecommerce driven.

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