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Walmart looks to ease back-to-school shopping through its app

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Walmart is gearing up for the second biggest shopping season of the year.

The discount giant on Wednesday unveiled new online tools designed to ease the back-to-school shopping experience for parents, teachers and students. Among the new initiatives, Walmart is now featuring dedicated school supply lists within its mobile app. Last year, the discount giant’s website debuted TeachersLists, a centralized location where teachers can upload supply lists. This year, parents can access the lists on Walmart’s mobile app, as well.

By entering their ZIP code, customers can pinpoint their child’s individual classroom list or access a general grade supplies list. The app also pinpoints the store aisle for each item. Customers can also use the app to locate all available school supplies and brands at store-level.

Walmart is also debuting a service that helps teachers stock up on classroom supplies. Walmart’s Teacher Shop, a dedicated section online and in more than 2,100 stores, features classroom décor and supplies, including stickers, reward charts, dry erase boards and markers, among other essentials.

The retailer has also doubled the assortment of back-to-school and college products available during the season, with everything available for buy-online-pickup-in-store. Back-to-school staples are eligible for Walmart’s increasingly expanding Online Grocery Pickup shopping service, and a majority of back-to-class items are also available for free two-day shipping on orders over $35 without a membership fee, according to Walmart.

The discounter kicked off its back-to-school season with the introduction of its newly launched Buy the Room feature, a service that allows customers to add a group of items to their online shopping cart, and buy a complete look. Initially, the service will highlight dorm living, and feature five curated collections. Each room will feature up to 20 of the most popular items college students need to outfit their living space.

Buy the Room is an extension of Walmart’s new digital home furnishings shopping experience. This is one of many elements featured on Walmart’s redesigned website, which was introduced in February.

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Whole Foods Market offering deals prior to Amazon’s Prime Day

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Amazon is using Whole Foods Market to kick off Prime Day in a big way.

Leading up to Prime Day on July 16, the online giant will offer a week of deals at Whole Foods stores. It’s even offering an incentive: Prime members who spend $10 at Whole Foods from July 11 through July 17 will receive a $10 Amazon account credit to use during the 36-hour sales event. Prime Day kicks off on July 16 and will last 36 hours.

Throughout the week, Whole Foods will also feature sales on select seasonal items, including fresh produce, meats, and grocery items. Amazon Prime Rewards Visa cardmembers will also earn 10% back at Whole Foods, up to $400 in purchases, throughout the pre-sale, as well as during the 36-hour Prime Day shopping event.

Amazon is also using the pre-sale week to drive some business for its Prime Now grocery delivery service. Prime members who try Prime Now before July 17, will receive $10 off their order, as well as $10 to use towards a future order.

This will be the first year that Whole Foods is part of Amazon’s Prime Day sale. In addition to snagging deep discounts on select popular products during Prime Day, customers will also get an additional 10% off hundreds of sale items throughout Whole Foods stores.

“Since Amazon acquired Whole Foods 13 months ago, it has been steadily integrating the grocery chain and its loyal customers. Prime Day deals connected to Whole Foods further integrates the grocery chain into the Amazon family and sets up a potentially lucrative 36-hour shopping period July 16-17,” said Tom Caporaso, CEO of Clarus Commerce.

“The fact that Amazon will launch this incentive for Prime members on July 11, is a very smart move, generating excitement and engagement around Whole Foods and Prime Day itself,” he added. “Amazon’s focus is and has always been on its customers and taking the friction out of shopping. By adding Whole Foods benefits to Prime, 100 million consumers now have a very good reason to shop there – or better yet – a reason not to shop elsewhere.”

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Walmart looks to make a splash in NYC through Jet.com

BY Marianne Wilson

Walmart is upping the ante in the grocery delivery wars in one of the nation’s most competitive markets.

“This is a key building block that is part of Jet’s strategy focused on urban centers and will help us build personal relationships with customers while offering them a unique assortment, tailored experience and personal service,” said Simon Belsham, president of Jet.com.

Walmart’s Jet.com division announced it will open a fulfillment center in New York City, in the Bronx, that will support same-day and next-day delivery throughout the city. The center will exclusively house Jet inventory, which includes groceries and everyday essentials.

To support its delivery efforts, Jet is partnering with Parcel, a last-mile delivery start-up Walmart acquired last October. It provides customers with live updates via text messages about delivery status.

In offering same-day delivery in New York City, Jet.com will compete with Target, which offers same-day delivery for in-store purchases to part of the city for a fee. Also, Amazon Prime provides same-day grocery delivery in the city.

Jet’s headquarters are in Hoboken, New Jersey. The company said the new center will create hundreds of jobs in the New York area.

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