By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Walmart strategy includes a broader product mix, heightened customer services, and low prices, in what they hope is a recipe for holiday success.
In a multi-pronged campaign designed to keep customers happy and spending money with the retail giant, Walmart has announced that its 2014 holiday strategy includes a broader product mix, heightened customer services, and continued low prices.
According to a press release, starting on Nov. 1, the retailer began offering more than 20,000 Rollbacks on items including groceries and popular brands such as Disney “Frozen," Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Samsung, and Dell. Just two days later, Walmart is bringing back its popular 24-hour holiday cyber savings event. All season long, customers can take advantage of free shipping on millions of items from Walmart.com.
It is also offering free shipping on its list of top 100 gifts, according to the Huffington Post, a move that comes as rival Target Corp. began offering free shipping on all items, a program that started late October and will last through Dec. 20.
"We're trying to offer the best deals when they want them," Steve Bratspies, Wal-Mart's executive vice president and general merchandise manager for Wal-Mart's U.S. division told the Huffington Post.
Walmart has expanded its digital shelves to include 7 million items – one million more than last holiday season. Deals typically reserved for Black Friday and Cyber Monday start on Walmart.com shortly after midnight Pacific Time on Monday, Nov. 3 and include deals on LED HDTVs, Nintendo 2DS Handheld Video Game Systems, a Barbie Dreamhouse, and a Nextbook tablet with 8GB memory.
In addition, the retailer announced, there will be hundreds of weekly online specials on electronics, apparel, home and toys.
“We are taking care of our customers today and all season long no matter how they shop – whether in our stores, online or on their mobile devices,” said Fernando Madeira, president and chief executive officer, Walmart.com U.S. “More than 65 percent of Walmart customers have smartphones and they look to us to provide a flexible shopping experience when, how and where they want.”
And just in time for Thanksgiving meal planning, the retailer announced an expansion of Savings Catcher. Beginning Nov. 2, holiday turkey and ham will be eligible for Savings Catcher, giving families confidence that they're getting a great price on these holiday meal essentials.
The retailer has also added a “Search My Store” feature on its mobile app that allows customers can search for nearly any item carried in a Walmart store and see the item’s availability at that store, its aisle location, ratings and reviews. “Search My Store” is currently available on Android devices and expands to iPhones by mid-November.
Other new holiday tools and resources available from Walmart this year are the Wish List, Holiday Hub, Layaway, and Ad Match.
Wal-Mart's aggressive initiatives underscore how stores are being forced to up the ante for the holiday shopping season, which accounts for about 20 percent of retail industry's annual sales. The National Retail Federation, the nation's largest retail trade group, forecasts a 4.1 percent overall sales increase to $616.9 billion for November and December from last year. But online sales, which are included in the forecast, are expected to increase anywhere from 8 percent to 11 percent.