Wal-Mart's holiday strategy doesn't include free shipping
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Thursday unveiled a holiday strategy that includes price breaks lasting far longer than the Black Friday weekend. “Rollbacks” will begin Nov. 1 and last 90 days.
But the retailer is not rolling back its free shipping minimum, instead requiring online customers to spend $50 for the perk.
The retailer is readying its stores Sunday, sweeping Halloween goodies off shelves to make way for holiday goods, including exclusive toys, baking supplies, and on-trend food.
- The company expects almost 75% of holiday traffic to its website to come from mobile and is rolling out "Mobile Check-in" for customers who pick up orders at its stores. The retailer is also launching an app feature where customers can scan items in store to build a wish list or search for someone else's wish list.
Wal-Mart appears to be ready for the holidays, instituting many of its “rollback” discounts Sunday and decking out its stores for the holidays.
The retailer says it won’t be beat on price, so in addition to those rollbacks it will maintain its price-matching policy.
Wal-Mart's shipping policy provides a good test of whether free shipping is as necessary as some retailers apparently believe. Target, for example, Thursday confirmed that it’s waiving its $25 minimum for orders from Nov. 1 till Christmas, Best Buy’s $35 minimum is already gone, from Oct. 25 to Jan. 2, and Toys R Us cut its minimum from $49 to $19.
Wal-Mart is laser-focused on beating rivals on price, except in this area. The retailer says that its customers are happy with the minimum, and certainly the added volume could make up for the increased shipping costs this year. Perhaps the retailer is betting that customers will opt to pick up their online orders in store — a free service that also gets them into the store to possible buy even more.
But Target has said that its free holiday shipping — and its lower minimum on other days for that matter — was a whopping success last year. The contrasting shipping policies this year will serve as a test case of sorts, if Wal-Mart really does maintain its $50 minimum for the entire season.
- Fortune Here's why Walmart won't discount holiday shipping
- press release via Seeking Alpha Walmart Unveils Holiday Strategy: Easier Shopping Every Day
Follow Daphne Howland on Twitter