TECHNOLOGY

Walmart’s Black Friday strategy kicks off early

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is featuring new digital enhancements and in-store events to encourage holiday customers to start their shopping early.

In addition to launching its Black Friday circular online and on the Walmart app on Nov. 8, the discount giant also made 18 Black Friday deals available for purchase online, while supplies last. Walmart also plans to officially launch its Black Friday deals online at 10 p.m. EST on Nov. 21 — its earliest online kickoff to date.

Then on Nov. 22, between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. — two hours before opening its doors on Thanksgiving — Walmart will host a sampling party, called “Light Up Black Friday,” which will give away four million cups of complimentary coffee from Keurig and nearly two million free Christmas cookies from the Walmart Bakery. Walmart’s Black Friday deals will be available in-store following the party, at 6 p.m.

All key departments, like toys, electronics, home and apparel, will be color-coded in the Black Friday event circular, in the app’s store map, on printed maps distributed in stores. Deals will be further highlighted in-store with balloons, signs, and associates wearing colored vests.

Customers can also use their Walmart app to access to digital store maps designed exclusively for Black Friday. The Black Friday Store Map will also include “pins” that direct shoppers to the top eight Black Friday deals.

Walmart associates will also be use mobile devices and Bluetooth printers to check out customers, and provide them with a receipt, on the spot. Mobile-armed associates, who will also be wearing an easy-to-spot bright yellow sash, will be positioned in the busiest areas of the stores.

“With deep availability of … items in our stores and new features like color-coded Black Friday Store Maps in the Walmart app and Check Out With Me, as well as earlier access to the deals online, it’s never been easier for customers to shop – and save – at Walmart on Black Friday,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer, Walmart U.S.

These enhancements augment the discounter’s overall holiday strategy which also features Walmart’s redesigned website. Among the site’s new services include curated and editorial content that will make assortments more discoverable. Content will also be delivered in new ways, including through gift guides, and a “new deals” hub that will be refreshed regularly. Category shopping destinations will also deliver holiday-specific experiences.

Walmart is also making “millions of items” sold on its marketplace eligible for free two-day shipping on orders over $35. The service, which does not require a membership, will launch in mid-November.

This is in addition to the to more than two million items sold online that are also eligible for free shipping when orders surpass $35. No membership fee applies.

Walmart is also expanding its toy assortment by 30% in stores and by 40% online this year, and both offerings include “hundreds of new exclusive toys,” according to the company.

The company’s other holiday initiatives include hosting 19,000 in-store events and demonstrations that enable customers to “test” specific products, and take pictures with Santa, among other attractions. The events, which will be ongoing until Dec. 24, will be complemented by digital content from online influencers.

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TECHNOLOGY

Best Buy jumps into the holiday delivery wars

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Best Buy has made a move to grab wallet share from competitors like Amazon, Walmart and Target, this holiday season.

Best Buy on Thursday announced it will provide free shipping on all online orders, with no minimum purchase required, from Nov. 8 to Dec. 25, as long as merchandise is available. It is the fourth straight year Best Buy has made the offer.

The service complements the company’s same-day delivery option. The service, which is available in 40 markets in the United States, has a $5.99 order fee. Customers can also pickup online orders in-store.

“Best Buy connecting its free shipping promotion to its omnichannel strategy is a great move,” said Charles Dimov, VP, marketing, OrderDynamics.

“First, it takes away the purchasing barrier of the dreaded minimum order required. Then, it reminds shoppers, ‘if you want it even faster, more conveniently, and the opportunity to see, touch and feel the product first, come into the store for a pickup,’” Dimov explained. “The in-store pickup saves Best Buy the cost of shipping and also reduces returns. Given that only 27.5% of retailers in the U.S. today offer the BOPIS option to customers, this is a nice differentiator for Best Buy.”

The announcement comes on the heels of competitors making similar delivery deals for the holidays. For the first time, Amazon is offering free shipping on all holiday orders with no minimum order required. (There is typically a $25 minimum for non-Prime members.)

Target will offer free two-day shipping to all customers, with no minimum purchase and no membership requirement. The offer runs from Nov. 1 until Dec. 22.

Walmart recently announced that “millions of items” sold on its marketplace are eligible for free two-day shipping on orders over $35. The service, which does not require a membership, will launch in mid-November. This is in addition to the to more than two million items sold online that are also eligible for free shipping when orders surpass $35. No membership fee applies.

Best Buy’s free shipping coincides with the company’s Black Friday deals on TVs, laptops, smart home devices, video games, and appliances, among other merchandise. The electronics retailer is launching “thousands” of early Black Friday deals on Nov. 8 through Nov. 11, and all are available online and in-store.

My Best Buy members will also be invited to Early Access sales events. Elite Plus and Elite members can shop on Sunday, Nov. 18, and all My Best Buy members can shop on Monday, Nov. 19, and Tuesday, Nov. 20.

Best Buy will re-launch all Black Friday deals to all customers on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 22.

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Amazon continues its price war with online competitors

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon may still be the online price leader, however it is losing its lead in certain categories.

This was according to “Price Wars: A Study of Online Competitiveness,” a study from Profitero that revealed Amazon is averaging 13% less expensive than other major online retailers in the United States.

Overall, Amazon had the lowest prices on the broadest selection of popular items, winning 11 out of 15 categories studied. Walmart had the most competitive prices to Amazon’s, with prices averaging 2.3% higher. Jet had prices 4.2% higher than Amazon, while Target averaged 11.9% higher.

However, there were a few exceptions where Amazon wasn’t the lowest priced in market. For instance, Chewy.com was 2.3% cheaper in pet supplies and Jet.com had lower prices than Amazon in beauty (.4%) and music & CDs (2.6%).

While Walmart had the most competitive prices to Amazon’s among any other retailer, the discount giant is making the largest strides to keep up with Amazon in the home furniture and baby categories. In fact, these prices are -0.7% and -0.3% lower, respectively.

In February 2018, Walmart, along with Jet and Target were locked in a fierce price competition with Amazon within online grocery. Since then, Jet.com has separated from the pack, lowering grocery prices by 5%.

Amazon’s price advantage was most notable compared to specialty stores. On average, Amazon was 13.3% cheaper on appliances and 15.2% cheaper on electronics versus Best Buy; 18.4% cheaper on sporting goods versus Dick’s Sporting Goods; and 24.9% cheaper on furniture compared to Wayfair. This dramatic price gap could have a major impact on these retailers’ holiday shopping sales if trends continue into November and December.

“Based on our latest data, it’s clear that Amazon is the best-priced retailer across the broadest selection of products,” Keith Anderson, Profitero’s senior VP of product strategy and insights. “That said, for those willing to spend the time, deals can still be found in price-competitive categories like baby, pet, and beauty products.”

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