Walmart focuses on service for the holidays

Date : 31 October 2016

Walmart is launching several new service-led initiatives to improve the in-store experience for its shoppers this holiday season.

Switch to service initiatives as business performance improves

Walmart is intending to ramp up its customer-service focused initiatives for the holidays. This aligns its strategic goal to make every day easier for families, with the checkout process being a key area of focus. Having reported improving results over recent quarters, driven by a focus on store standards, service and pricing, the retailer is better positioned this year to emphasise its service-led approach as the core operational improvements have become embedded within the organisation.

Aiming to improve speed of service at the checkout

In November, the retailer is introducing ‘Holiday Helpers’ which will be dedicated to helping customers get through the checkout process faster. They will be tasked with helping shoppers to find the shortest line, open checkouts as required and grab any last-minute items. This holiday season many shoppers will also be available to use Walmart Pay which significantly speeds up transaction time at the checkout.

Significantly increasing its online range

Walmart is also focused on delivering a seamless shopping experience across its stores and online. Driven by its marketplace initiative, the retailer has increased its online range from 8m to 20m items this year, with further items to be added in the coming months. Given the significant increase in range, to make shopping easier on, the retailer will highlight a Top 20 list of items based on sales trends.

Offering additional convenience through store pick-up investments

As part of the retailer’s efforts to offer more convenience to its shoppers, Walmart is expanding the range of products available for store pick-up, including broadening the range of toys, electronics, seasonal decoration and clothing items available for same-day pick-up. It is also allocating additional store pick-up staff, including dedicated pick-up managers in every store for the first time. This is an area in which the retailer continues to innovate, recently launching the test of an automated solution at its store in Rogers, AR, which speeds up the in-store process for its customers.

Building on its new program of price investments

Having improved its pricing position this year following the launch of a significant investment program of several billion dollars, new rollbacks will feature prominently through the holiday season, with some products matching its Black Friday pricing last year. Walmart is planning on a sustained pricing campaign starting from the first weekend in November to Black Friday and Cyber Monday and through to the end of December. There is no doubt that the holiday season will be as competitive as ever, but given Walmart's initiatives in this area, the competitive responses and a backdrop of deflation in many product categories, the impact is likley to be intensified this year.

Stewart Samuel, Program Director, IGD Canada
Based in Canada, Stewart heads up all of IGD's research and coverage on Walmart globally. He is also responsible for shaping IGD's research program across North America. Contact Stewart at [email protected] for further insight on the retailer and the region.