Walmart today revealed it will try to take some of the pain out of shopping this holiday season by giving sales associates new tools, including the ability to check consumers out wherever they are in the store, allowing them to avoid long lines — the bane of the Christmas shoppers’ existence.
“We’re launching a new service, Check Out With Me — to bypass checkout lines and checkout with sales associates,” said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer.
While Check Out With Me was created with single bigger items such as televisions or Christmas trees in the home and garden department in mind, it can conceivably be used anywhere in the store.
“You can check out right where you are,” Bratspies said. “It’s not designed for customers to bring a basket of their items to a sales associate, but they will check you out in different areas of the store.”
Bratspies said Check Out With Me “probably will be continued after holiday.”
Check Out With Me was developed as part of “a lot of work we’re doing in stores around the checkout experience,” Bratspies said. “We’re working on what we call ‘front end of the future,’ bringing in different registers that can move us faster. When we think about the experience the customer has in stores, the front end is their first interaction and their last. We’re always looking for new ways to do it.”
Walmart has been aggressively overhauling many aspects of its business in order to compete with Amazon. It’s made enhancements to its app, including adding digital maps that give the location of products down to the exact aisle. It also launched a fully redesigned walmart.com earlier this year.
“Holiday shopping on walmart.com is a new experience,” said Scott Hilton, chief revenue officer. “There’s everything from content to gift guides to a new deals hub to monthly blitzes from ED1 by Ellen Degeneres.”
Hilton said walmart.com created shopping destinations for home and fashion, which make those categories feel like a specialty store. We’re aggressively expanding our online offering,” he said. “We’ve added over 2,000 brands, from premium electronics to cashmere sweaters.”
That includes the 150 premium brands that are sold through Lord & Taylor’s storefront on walmart.com and ED1, which is exclusive to the retailer.
The Walmart executives addressed several areas that will no doubt be battlegrounds for differentiation from competitors this holiday season.
• Shipping: Walmart is making more marketplace items eligible for free shipping — the retailer said it’s designated scores of third-party products, on top of the millions of Walmart items.
• Returns: In mid-November, Walmart will make it easier to return products purchased from third-party sellers on its marketplace by allowing consumers to return those items in its stores.
• Toys: With the closure of Toys ‘R’ Us stores, Walmart and Target will duke it out to capture the shuttered retailer’s market share, while keeping a close eye on Amazon.
Walmart’s America’s Best Toy Shop “will be the place to buy toys at the best prices this holiday season,” the retailer said. “With 30 percent new toys in stores and 40 percent more toys online, customers will have hundreds of new toy options to choose from.”