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Walmart will provide last-minute pickup for holiday procrastinators

Walmart may have found another winning strategy on mobile this holiday: a solution for a widespread phenomenon around this time of year, the procrastinating holiday shopper.

The retail giant is doing this by introducing a last minute pickup option for shoppers looking for the final touches to their shopping lists on Walmart’s mobile-optimized Web site. And, if that isn’t enough of a draw, Walmart is rolling out a new online destination for last-minute shoppers and released shipping cut-off dates.

“To the extent that a retailer is putting a Brand commitment out to their consumers for order fulfillment in this holiday time period, this is unique to Walmart as of today,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of SiteMinis. “The idea is that 3900 stores will have your order at the store by ?6PM Christmas Eve if you place the order by ?6pm local time on the 23rd.

“Although, Target is a significant competitor to Walmart, this last minute gift commitment by Walmart is a value add to the shopper.”

Last-minute gifts
Qualifying items on Walmart’s dedicated last-minute gifts online destination will be tagged as “Free Pickup Today.” The site will feature thousands of items and will indicate what is available at local stores. Pickup, especially same-day, has been incredibly popular for Walmart throughout the holiday season, with 10 times as many pickup orders placed on peak days compared to an average day.

Some of Walmart’s most popular reported last-minute gifts include connected home technology such as the Google Home, VR headsets, drones, televisions, video games and laptops such as the HP Manhattan Gold Ci5 Touch Laptop.

For customers looking to have gifts delivered right to their doorsteps, December 22 at noon local time is the last day to place an order on walmart.com for rush delivery. Additionally, Walmart is offering free two-day shipping on more than 1,500 toys from December 14 to December 21.

As for Walmart stores themselves, they will close at 6 p.m. local time on Christmas Eve—two hours earlier than previous years. Pickup will be available until stores close for orders placed on Dec. 23.

“In relative numbers, about 15 percent of purchases for this holiday season will be classified as ‘Last Minute’, and 2/3rds of those last minute shoppers will most likely frequent Walmart or Target for at least some of those gifts,” Ms. Troutman said. Because of this situation, mobile is incredibly important in the sales procedure, for the very fact that mobile commerce is, well, mobile.”

Mobile shopping
The development is more an innovation on Walmart’s part in being able to see the platform’s potential to both ease bricks-and-mortar congestion and increase online sales. And by being the first to break into such a program at this scale, Walmart can work on marginalizing its competition, as is its wont.

Walmart seems to be following its own advice: it rolled out big holiday deals this year as it headed into the Black Friday and Cyber Monday, and to capitalize on the hectic holiday, Walmart offered deals exclusive to their mobile application users (see story).

It also recently announced that it will scale back the opening of new stores to focus on improving its mobile and online commerce channels, following many other big retailers after the industry as a whole saw a surge in mobile shopping and digital continues to dominate (see story).

“Mobile will be an integral component to these purchasing decisions as part of the shopping process—who has the item, what is the price, how many do they have available and how easily can I get the searched gift?” Ms Troutman said. “One of the benefits of browsing on a mobile interface over browsing in-store is the obvious benefit of price/value comparison.

“However, when it comes to gift crunch time, the ability to search product availability, ease of acquisition and alternative options will be assisted through the mobile interaction,” she said. “Consumers go in and out of the interactions on a mobile interface to come to a buying decision throughout the buying process.

“In the end, at holiday time, last minute shopping consumers resources (time and money) come into play, and that reduces options. This plays into the hands of those brands that have significant local market presence, as Walmart does.”