Walmart has a present challenge and a future challenge, and the giant chain is trying to step up to both with some new initiatives. So, on the first official weekend of summer, say hello to an even earlier holiday promotion season at Walmart, who is also toying with the idea of a drive-through to pick-up online orders from Walmart.com.
The most pressing challenge, of course, is to get American consumers to come back to Walmart stores immediately and spend money there with the sort of growth that had been reliable for decades. Walmart’s growth has been stymied lately by a number of factors, including sluggish US consumer spending overall, and the chain’s own mistakes such as allowing too many items to be out of stock.
So this year, Walmart is attempting to get a better start on the holiday season by hosting what Advertising Age called the chain’s first showcase for long-lead magazine and gift-guide editors of the merchandise that it expects to be top sellers this holiday season—media features that typically don’t close until July.[more]
Walmart made it clear that among the hits it expects are anything to do with the Frozen movie franchise by Disney, including dolls, bedding, lip gloss and decorative-cookie kits. “There’s going to be a stress level about Frozen this holiday season,” Ginny Rothschild, vice president of US bed and bath for Walmart, told the publication. “We’ve got [merchandise] in so many different categories.”
Meanwhile, Walmart’s long-term challenge is to battle the digital innovations and critical mass being achieved by online competitors like Amazon and eBay and big-box player Target, who has been especially targeting the e-commerce and mobile commerce space with new convenience models like in-store pick-up, subscriptions and its in-store coupon companion app, Cartwheel.
Walmart is looking to take those click-and-collect convenience models one step further with its experimentation with a drive-through window. The Drive concept allows consumers to order products online and then schedule a time to pick them up at a Walmart location without ever having to get out of the car. About 10,000 items would be available, the brand said, but mostly groceries and over-the-counter pharmaceuticals.
“We look at this,” said Jeff Davis, executive vice president and chief financial officer for Walmart US, according to Food Business News, “as an opportunity to allow customers to shop how they want to, when they want to.”
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