- Walmart plans to hire more than 20,000 seasonal associates for its e-commerce fulfillment centers as the retailer anticipates a spike in online shopping during the holiday season, according to a company post.
- Walmart also indicated that it will spread Black Friday savings throughout the season, with more deals online as well, in response to company survey data that 87% of Walmart customers planned to seek out deals earlier this year. The retailer promised "an all-new Black Friday experience," with details to come later.
- The retailer said it is boosting availability of categories that have spiked during the pandemic, including athleisure, loungewear, outdoor grills, bicycles, and exercise and outdoor equipment. Walmart also plans to carry more than 800 exclusive toys for the holiday season and boost its kitchen products.
Walmart and its peers are heading into a holiday season whose defining quality at the moment is uncertainty. Yet there is one likely certain feature that analysts anticipate: The 2020 holiday season will be a big one for e-commerce.
AlixPartners found from consumer surveys that 45% of shoppers plan to do the majority of their shopping online, up 15% from last year. Additionally, Deloitte estimates e-commerce sales will grow 25% to 30% year over year, and survey data from analytics firm Glassbox found that 70% of survey respondents planned to do the majority of their holiday shopping online, via the web or mobile.
Walmart's e-commerce sales have already gone through dramatic growth during the COVID-19 pandemic and has increased capacity in tandem. The retailer's digital sales doubled in the second quarter, with margins for online selling growing as well.
With the pandemic driving shoppers to Walmart's brick-and-mortar locations and website, the company has hired 500,000 new workers to date to staff its stores and supply chain facilities.
Earlier this month Cowen analysts, looking ahead to the fall, said that Walmart and Target are likely among the beneficiaries of the season as consumers consolidate their shopping trips — a response to the pandemic — and seek out value. Target, also coming off a blowout Q2, has seen triple digit growth in its same-day services, including Shipt as well as those that blend online shopping with store pickup.
Walmart's stores give it a major advantage in the competition over the holidays as they can serve as a logistics platform as well as pickup and return sites for consumers shopping online. Just in time for the season, Walmart also launched a membership program, Walmart+, that comes with free shipping as well as gas savings and other perks.
Going into the season, Walmart and Target will be formidable competitors on price, convenience and multi-channel shopping, meaning smaller players will have to find creative ways to differentiate themselves on product and experience.