Walmart plans to party hardy throughout the holidays

Discussion
Photo: Walmart
Nov 01, 2017
George Anderson

Walmart has a lot of plans in place to drive sales during the holiday season, including an expanded assortment of products in stores and online and free two-day shipping on millions of items. “Holiday helpers” will be positioned in stores to help customers find the shortest checkout line, pick up online orders in stores and more. Walmart also plans to throw more than 20,000 parties at its Supercenters throughout the season.

The parties, each with an individual theme, will kick off this weekend with a “Toys that Rock” celebration. Customers who stop by Walmart on Saturday, Nov. 4 will get a copy of the retailer’s annual toys catalog along with sticker sheets for kids to identify their favorites.

In the toy departments, kids will be invited to play with hot toys for the holiday and take selfies with Santa. Saint Nick will have a busy season at Walmart. The retailer says he’ll be making 24,000 visits to its stores during the season.

The second themed in-store celebration Walmart has planned is “Parties that Rock.” At the event, scheduled for Dec. 2, the retailer will provide tips for customers who want to throw holiday parties that will be remembered well past the new year.

The third party, named “Gifts that Rock” and scheduled for Dec. 16, will feature displays of curated assortments of top gifts.

The retailer is placing greater emphasis on product demonstrations with more than 165,000 planned during the season. Expanded product assortment, holiday helpers, parties and demos are all part of Walmart’s plan to double-down on its in-store experience, according to Walmart’s chief marketing officer Tony Rogers (via USA Today).

While Walmart is playing up the advantage of having thousands of stores across the country, the retailer has also greatly expanded its online selection, adding brands such as Bose, Cuisinart, KitchenAid and Yankee Candle to its lineup. Walmart has also made deals to offer “more exclusives” online and off than ever before.

“This is our first holiday season with [free] two-day shipping [on orders over $35], and an expanded online grocery assortment,” Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer of Walmart U.S., told CNBC. “It’s the biggest and best year, yet, when it comes to merchandise.”

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Will “doubling down” on the in-store experience with holiday helpers, product demos and parties help Walmart drive higher sales from its stores during the Christmas season? Do you expect that parties will prove to be a big draw for the retailer?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
Braintrust
"All of the various events, parties and added customer interaction will certainly improve the experience for shoppers. "
"Makes sense for Walmart since people who just want to fulfill baskets are moving to online anyway..."
"This is another smart move by Walmart to take advantage of its stores to fend off Amazon."

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14 Comments on "Walmart plans to party hardy throughout the holidays"


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Brandon Rael
BrainTrust

This is a brilliant move by Walmart as it moves to a more experiential retail model. They certainly have the space, capacity, in-store resources and scale to support an enhanced in-store experience. The one gap that will need to be filled is educating and enhancing their in-store talent from a pure operational mode to one that is laser-focused on the customer experience side of retail.

By enhancing the in-store experience, Walmart certainly is taking a page from Best Buy’s strategies by offering guides, product demonstrations and overall looking to mitigate the impact of showrooming.

Whether or not this results in significant incremental revenue remains to be seen. This is a welcome evolution for the Walmart team, as the customer preferences have changed significantly since the dawn of the big box retail era. Regardless of the results, this is an excellent short-term strategic tactic, and overall Walmart will benefit by the positive PR that comes out of this announcement.

Neil Saunders
BrainTrust

All stores need to give people reasons to visit. Walmart understands this which is why it put more effort into its shops last holiday season. Given that it paid dividends in terms of customer traffic and sales, it makes sense that they are looking to replicate and extend their efforts this year.

The “parties” sound like good selling opportunities and should help Walmart push key lines over the festive period.

As ever, success won’t just come down to this — it will be down to this and all of the other things Walmart is doing to stimulate demand. I expect them to be one of the winners over the holiday season.

Anne Howe
BrainTrust

All of the various events, parties and added customer interaction will certainly improve the experience for shoppers. I like the fact that they’re all connected to expanded product offerings in specific product categories. Helping the shopper while adding some fun should add up to better results and more satisfied shoppers.

Dr. Stephen Needel
BrainTrust

This forum has always brought up how bad an experience it is to shop Walmart during the holidays. Anything they can do to improve that experience should help them. It also sounds like they are doing things that will keep shoppers in the store longer, which should be good for sales.

Michael La Kier
BrainTrust

I’m not sure that big parties at Walmart will be a draw for shoppers. It may improve the shopping experience, but given the hustle and bustle of the holidays there seem to be more people these days on targeted trip missions: get in and get out. So the added clutter may backfire.

Cathy Hotka
BrainTrust

Party on, Walmart! The competition will pull out all the stops to ensure a compelling customer experience, and it looks as if Walmart will try to up the ante. Christmas shopping hasn’t been a lot of fun but, going forward, it might be!

Loretta Bradshaw
Guest

Successful in-store demonstrations, I call them Sell Days, of products and services have been a customer engagement tactic for years, going back to the early Apple days with Guy Kawasaki. The key ingredients include deployment of a skilled sales force, experts in product knowledge and selling skills. Create a visual experience with great merchandising in a high traffic location inside the Walmart, add to that compelling instant or mail in rebate sales promotions and new sales happen. The more Walmart is willing to engage the customer face to face, the higher the sales! Everybody loves a party!

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Walmart’s in-store parties and demonstration events are a great way to increase store traffic and sales. Consumers love the theater of shopping and getting kids excited about the latest new toys will spur more items from Walmart on Christmas wish lists and will ultimately result in incremental sales for Walmart.

The multiple themed events will bring shoppers to Walmart several times during the holiday shopping season. The more often you can get customers to visit your store, the more selling opportunities it creates. This is another smart move by Walmart to take advantage of its stores to fend off Amazon.

Todd Trombley
Guest

Tremendous initiative by Walmart. I think their customers will absolutely eat this up and it will result in higher sales. Adding these kinds of customer experience centered events in what is traditionally a low customer experience environment will make them really stand out.

I hope we hear something of their traffic counts during these events, but I have to believe they will be accretive to store traffic.

Peter Luff
BrainTrust

Customers will ultimately notice if a retailer is putting in more effort. This in many cases will be successful, but of course from time to time may not. Walmart should track such activities to ensure they deliver results, and measure the success of this activity in a few key areas:

1. Impact of footfall, has the marketing effort got people in the store;

2. Impact on sales, has the team then executed on the event;

3. Customer satisfaction, ask the customers who attended what they thought.

By this approach you can also calculate the event investment to the increase in opportunity; sales and customer experience. Only then can you truly say if it’s worked, or which elements have worked and set them up for future repeats.

This will then make the learning clear and avoid all the soft arguments which inevitably come to assess if this a success or not.

Ken Morris
BrainTrust

Walmart’s in-store parties and demonstration events are a great way to increase store traffic and sales. Consumers love the theater of shopping and getting kids excited about the latest new toys will spur more items from Walmart on Christmas wish lists and ultimately result in incremental sales for Walmart. With 90% of the US population living within a 10 mile radius of a Walmart, this should increase traffic significantly. Maybe it is back to the future for children’s toys. When I was a child the place you went was the department store where the toys where showcased and you clamored for your parents to take you to see the show.

The multiple themed events will bring shoppers to Walmart several times during the holiday shopping season. The more often you can get customers to visit your store, the more selling opportunities it creates. This is another smart move by Walmart to take advantage of its stores to fend off Amazon.

Kenneth Leung
BrainTrust

Makes sense for Walmart since people who just want to fulfill baskets are moving to online anyway, those who are visiting the stores are looking for distraction/entertainment/thrill of the hunt. As long as they still have the staffing to do the checkout and restocking, having events and demonstrations are the best way to make the store visit more memorable.

Ricardo Belmar
BrainTrust

This is really an amazing turn of events and change of strategy for Walmart! A brilliant move towards a more experiential retail model. Walmart has the scale and resources advantage that other retailers can’t match. If we see positive holiday sales results from Walmart I expect to see more retailers following this model next year and for Walmart to adopt the approach throughout the year to drive store traffic. This could lead to Walmart developing their in-store version of Amazon’s Prime Day as a “party” celebration across multiple product categories.

Molly Nichols
Guest

The product demos will not only help get customers in the door, but will greatly increase sales! Once customers see a product being used and use it themselves, it’s hard for them to walk away without buying it.

The increased holiday helpers increases personalization; a major key for any successful retailer these days. However, as far as the parties go, I think we should wait and see. They could drive away loyal customers since they are appealing to a slightly different target audience than normal or they could be an absolute hit and be way too crowded and turn people off. I’m excited to see what happens!

wpDiscuz
Braintrust
"All of the various events, parties and added customer interaction will certainly improve the experience for shoppers. "
"Makes sense for Walmart since people who just want to fulfill baskets are moving to online anyway..."
"This is another smart move by Walmart to take advantage of its stores to fend off Amazon."

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