With Halloween about to wrap up this week, Walmart (WMT) is already looking forward to December and what its executives expect to be its “best holiday season yet.”
The world’s largest retailer is rolling out some new initiatives with the goal of getting customers in-and-out of the store faster during the holiday rush.
New in stores starting November 1 will be the “Check Out With Me” service, where associates will be positioned with handheld devices in some of the heaviest trafficked areas of the store, like the garden center or electronics department, allowing customers to purchase items in that department so they can bypass long lines at the register.
“The idea is we are not going to be checking out large baskets standing in the aisles doing it. It’s geared toward one or two items, said Steve Bratspies, the chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S. “It can be any items. There’s no level set on [the] price.”
Another new offering will be digital store maps for each of the 4,700 locations on the Walmart app to help customers quickly locate a product “down to the exact aisle location.”
“There’s no more searching through dozens of aisles to find out what’s on your list,” added Bratspies.
Evolving to compete
Walmart has already announced plans to broaden its selection of holiday gifts, ranging from Bose to KitchenAid to Fornite and Ryan’s World toys.
Following the fall of Toys ‘R’ Us, Walmart doubled-down on its toy offering, adding 30% more toys in stores and increasing its online offering by 40%. The retailer recently shared its list of top 40 toys curated by “toy influencers” and “every-day kids.”
As free two-day shipping becomes the expectation in retail, Walmart will start offering shoppers free, two-day shipping on orders over $35 for “millions of items” from third-party marketplace sellers without a membership fee. Two years ago, Walmart began offering free two-day shipping for items it directly sells on its website. In addition to the free two-day shipping offering, Walmart is also offering customers the ability to make any returns on marketplace items at its 4,700 store locations.
All that said, this year’s holiday season is happening against a backdrop of 10% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports with plans to hike to 25% in January.
“Our approach on how we price and how we go to market isn’t really changing, which is we are going to be the low price leader in the market. And we never want to take prices up, and will always work to avoid doing that wherever we can. And it’s a balance,” said Bratspies in response to a Yahoo Finance question.
Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter. Send tips to firstname.lastname@example.org.