Two weeks ahead of the blockbuster Black Friday shopping day, Wal-Mart is rolling out dozens of items that customers can browse exclusively on its mobile app.
Wal-Mart will also increase its Black Friday inventory dedicated to online sales by 50% in anticipation of 280 million visits to its app over the November and December months, executives told reporters on Wednesday, Fortune reports.
Black Friday promotions will be available online at Walmart.com beginning just after midnight on Thanksgiving morning, and Wal-Mart stores will open at 6 p.m. Thanksgiving Day.
Wal-Mart, known for its enormous brick-and-mortar superstores, is making a big push to capture sales on mobile and online — and just in time for the blockbuster Black Friday holiday. The retailer is also encouraging shoppers to use its Walmart Pay mobile wallet. (And by pushing mobile shopping, Wal-Mart will also acquire richer data on shopping habits as well.)
This year, holiday sales are expected to increase 11% to reach a record $91.6 billion, according to Adobe’s 2016 Digital Insights Shopping Predictions. For the first time, mobile devices will outpace desktops in shopping visits, 53% versus 47% respectively, but mobile shopping will account for just 34% of total digital sales — representing a gap of 19% between visits and purchases.
While Wal-Mart is certainly hoping to cater to a growing number of online holiday shoppers, its digital push will continue well past the holiday shopping bonanza. The retailer last month announced it is slowing down store openings in a new focus to bolster its online initiatives, earmarking $11 billion in capital spending to boost online sales, and its online sales are projected to grow between 20% to 30% in the second half of the year.
The most obvious sign of Wal-Mart's commitment to its digital strategy is its $3.3 billion purchase of Jet, a barely-year-old e-commerce startup that has never turned a profit. Earlier this month, Walmart.com chief Fernando Madeira exited just as the retailer announced it would incorporate Jet's "smart basket" dynamic pricing system into the site. With innovations from its young, startup sidekick, it's likely Wal-Mart will continue expand its e-commerce and mobile presence in a big way.
This story is part of our ongoing coverage of the 2016 holiday shopping season. You can browse our holiday page for more stories.