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Walmart pulling out all the stops this holiday season

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Walmart has unveiled a multi-pronged holiday strategy that emphasizes convenience, expanded assortments, price discounts, speedy deliveries — and in-store fun. The company said it will throw three themed parties at its stores (for a total of 20,000 parties chainwide) over the course of the season. At the parties, which will include product demonstrations, customers will be able to test (and, in some instances, taste) top holiday items.

The first party, called “Toys that Rock,” will be held on Nov. 4 and be focused on toys. Kids can play with hot holiday toys and take selfies with Santa. The second themed event, on Dec. 2, will be dedicated to holiday entertaining. The third, on Dec. 16, will emphasize gift ideas.

In addition, for the second year, the discounter will have dedicated “Holiday Helpers” on site to help customers at the front-end find the shortest checkout, open registers, and grab items they might have forgotten. The company will increase the staffers, who are decked out with reindeer hats, during the busiest times of the season.

On the merchandise front, Walmart is expanding its product assortment in-stores and online, where it has more than tripled the number of products available this year as compared to last year. The discounter is bolstering up its assortment with more exclusives as well as brands new to it, including KitchenAid, Cuisinart and Yankee Candle. The chain promises deep availability of hot items, with products available in-stores and online throughout the season. And in what is sure to be a competitive season price wise, Walmart said it will offer price rollbacks on “thousands of items” throughout the season.

In other key holiday initiatives, Walmart is offering new incentives for online order deliveries, including making more than two million items available for free two-day shipping on orders over $35.

Holiday shoppers will also, for the first time, be able to take advantage of the chain’s “Pickup Discount,” which provides additional savings on select items for online customers that buy online-only items and ship them to a Walmart store for free pickup. These services augment the discounter’s free Pickup Today service that enables shoppers to reserve items online to pick up in store on the same day.

“We launched some really powerful things for customers this year with free two-day shipping and the Pickup Discount,” said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer, Walmart U.S. e-commerce. “These programs will be playing a big role during the holiday season.”

Walmart also has doubled its Online Grocery Pickup service locations since last holiday season. The service, which is now available at more than 1,100 locations, helps customers pick up online orders without getting out of their car.

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Walgreens promotes pharmacy president to president of operations

BY Michael Johnsen

DEERFIELD, Ill. — Walgreens on Wednesday announced the promotion of Richard Ashworth to president operations from his current role of president, pharmacy and retail operations.

“Effective immediately, Richard will bring his talent and tremendous experience to the leadership of all our critical operating functions with the new title of president of operations,” the company stated in an internal memo.

In this expanded role, Ashworth will add to his responsibilities Walgreen’s healthcare commercial, IT and supply chain areas and will continue to oversee his current team from pharmacy and retail operations.

With this change, Alex Gourlay, co-COO of Walgreens Boots Alliance and president of Walgreens, will have the opportunity to devote more time to the development of WBA’s business plan and transformation, the company noted.

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V.Ayuso says:
Nov-03-2017 03:54 pm

Congratulations to Ashworth. Wish him much success in his expanded role.

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Litter for small dogs could be the next big trend among pet owners

BY Gisselle Gaitan

ROCKVILLE, Md. — Litter for small dogs could become the next wave of in-demand items by pet owners, according to market research firm Packaged Facts. The company reports that despite the cat litter market being at $2.8 billion, it holds an opportunity for sales growth that does not depend entirely on felines.

Canines weighing under 25 pounds could be the next target, considering 12% of U.S. households own dogs weighing under pounds, while 43% have ones weighing between 8-24 pounds — making them the most popular household pet in the nation.

"Litter for dogs is an opportunity for cat litter marketers to expand into an entirely new demographic and attract a growing number of pet owners," Packaged Facts research director David Sprinkle said.

Packaged Facts suggests taking advantage of the trend of small dogs in urban settings, and creating products that would convenience this demographic. The company points out that dogs who have been littered-trained do not need to be taken outside as frequently as those who have not. The opportunity to create an environmentally product that could become biodegradable to becomes available as well.

"The shift to smaller dogs should continue in the years ahead, driven by both older and younger pet owners," Sprinkle said. "For older pet owners, smaller dogs can be much easier to manage, lighter to lift and requiring less outdoor time. As living situations change, smaller pets are more easily admissible to apartments and other group dwellings, including assisted living communities. Also favoring the smaller dog shift are preferences among younger pet owners, along with increased urbanization and apartment/condo ownership. In addition, for pet owners young and old alike, smaller dogs are easier to travel with and care for in vacation environments."

Beyond litter-training, the report also highlights the potential for the smaller dog trend to help bolster food sales — which Packaged Facts said face difficulties with volume sales, as these pets consume little food. It notes that size- and breed-specific foods could combat this potential issue.

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