Three ways Walmart is supporting back-to-school sales

Date : 29 July 2020

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

We look at how Walmart Canada is activating back-to-school in-store and online.

A different back-to-school

In Canada, there remains a high degree of uncertainty with regards to the future school year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Each province is responsible for setting the timelines and guidelines for the reopening of schools, colleges and universities. In most provinces, schools did reopen before the summer break, with most providing parents with the option of in-class or at-home tuition. Although pandemic trends are heading in the right direction, it is expected that most provinces will continue to offer these options or a blended tuition approach. Several colleges and universities have indicated that classes will be digital only in the fall.

Breadth of assortment

Walmart is one of the leading destinations for back-to-school shopping. Key competitors include Staples, Costco and Loblaw (through its hypermarket format). However, Walmart can focus on a breadth of ages and needs due to its extensive non-food ranges, including clothing and homewares. Alongside the traditional back-to-school campaign, back-to-college is also a key focus, with the retailer emphasising dorm room accessories.

1. Seasonal takeover

With most stores featuring primary seasonal space at the front of store, it ensures great visibility of any key campaign. For back-to-school, Walmart has branded the department with relevant graphics and the strapline ‘Top marks for low prices’. The retailer offers a broad range of products in this area including stationery, backpacks , lunch boxes and snacks. It creates a strong visual reminder to shoppers at the front of store.

Source: IGD Research

2. Off-shelf programme

Adjacent to the seasonal area, Walmart features several PDQs, or pallet displays. These mainly feature stationery products and food storage. Several of these are also located in other areas of the store to drive impulse purchases.

Source: IGD Research

3. Digital execution

As a leading omnichannel retailer in Canada, Walmart is also optimising its strengths in this area. It has activated several email campaigns centred on the back-to-school event. It has led with a strong value-based message and the strapline  ‘However you go back, we’ve got your back’, reflecting the current environment. A key aim is to reflect the breadth of its ranges, with the retailer making it easy for customers by segmenting products by school grade. In a new development for this year, the retailer also showcases a range of back-to-school hygiene products, including wipes, sanitizers and face masks.

Source: Walmart Canada

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