Will early out-of-stocks throw off Walmart’s holiday momentum?
Some customers weren’t entirely happy at Walmart this Black Friday: the chain ran out of some discounted inventory before the retail holiday’s official start.
Walmart customers began encountering out-of-stocks on some of the store’s e-commerce products early on Thanksgiving Day, according to CNBC. Walmart kicked of its online deals at midnight on Thursday and customers complained on social media that some items were sold out by 2 a.m. Shoppers on Black Friday morning found themselves out of luck on items such as boys pajamas and particular LED televisions.
The rise of e-commerce has changed the shape of Black Friday in recent years. Customers who aren’t interested in dealing with holiday crowds and long lines at physical stores have opted to shop at home. Walmart’s early Thanksgiving sellout raises the question if Black Friday has begun to diminish in significance as a draw for physical shopping as online promotions now start before Thanksgiving and bleed into Cyber Monday and beyond.
Online shopping on Black Friday is continuing to grow. This year’s sales reached $5.03 billion in the U.S., according to an Adobe Digital Insights study quoted in USA Today, representing a 16.9 percent year-over-year increase. Online shopping on Thanksgiving Day was way up as well, hitting $2.87 billion and increasing 18.3 percent. As of 10 p.m. last night, Adobe was projecting that Cyber Monday sales would hit an all-time high, reaching $6.59 billion by the end of the day, a 16.8 percent year-over-year increase.
E-commerce as a whole has proved to be a double-edged sword for Walmart. On one hand, the company is investing in its online presence to compete with Amazon.com, but on the other the costs associated with e-commerce might offer incentive to put a cap on its deals even during the holidays.
Walmart has been taking steps to push customers into physical stores to save on shipping costs and increase impulse buys. This year, the retailer has added a discount for items purchased through BOPIS and, in some instances, placed lower in-store prices on the website next to the online ones for customers to compare.
In-store traffic declined 1.6 percent on Black Friday and Thanksgiving Day combined, according to a ShopperTrak study quoted in USA Today.
- Wal-Mart readies for Cyber Monday as some inventory is already out of stock online – CNBC
- Walmart’s online price drives customers to its supercenters – RetailWire
- Retailers rejoice — and Cyber Monday sales could set a record – USA Today
- Adobe Data Shows Cyber Monday Is Largest Online Sales Day in History with $6.59 Billion – Adobe
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you think consumers are more willing or less to accept out-of-stocks during peak holiday deal days than they are the rest of the year? Will out-of-stocks on Thanksgiving Day negatively impact Walmart’s overall holiday performance? How do you see Walmart faring with its online performance this holiday season?