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Amazon Holiday Prep Series: How Walmart and Target Are Competing With Amazon
Stay on top of the latest e-commerce and marketplace trends.
The Amazon holiday prep series will run throughout Q4, as well as the weeks leading up to and following the peak selling season. It will focus on relevant e-commerce holiday news, as well as actionable strategies you can implement to achieve your sales goals and carry momentum into the new year.
In the press release announcing Amazon’s third-quarter earnings, with sales up 24% year-over-year to $70 billion, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said, “We are ramping up to make our 25th holiday season the best ever for Prime customers — with millions of products available for free, one-day delivery.”
The race for holiday market share is intensifying, particularly among Amazon, Walmart, and Target, and this post will recount the most notable steps these stakeholders have taken thus far. Historically, Nov. 1 symbolizes the start of the holiday season and was the date retailers chose to kick off Black Friday deals — Amazon has begun its “Countdown to Black Friday” sale which offers deep discounts on top products across fashion, toys, and home through Nov. 21.
However, this year, a growing number of consumers are starting their holiday shopping earlier. According to a survey from the National Retail Federation (NRF), 39% of consumers said they would start buying holiday products before November. Here is a rundown of what key players like Walmart and Target have done so far to address these evolving consumer expectations.
Walmart Shifts Holiday Promotion Timeline, Plans New Activations
To help consumers take advantage of this year’s shortened holiday season, Walmart launched its “earlier than ever” holiday savings and deals, with an “Early Deals Drop” that began on Oct. 25. Specific products mentioned with deals include electronics, gaming, toys, home, and sporting goods. This may prove to be especially advantageous for Walmart, as nearly 70% of high spenders will begin shopping before Thanksgiving Day, according to a Deloitte survey.
The retailer indicated that new savings will continue to roll out over the holiday season, including additional “Deal Drops” on popular holiday products. In addition to the early deals and discounts, Walmart is promoting an expanded set of features and services to optimize the customer experience this holiday season:
- A scannable toy catalog: Launching on Nov. 1, shoppers can browse and buy hundreds of toys — including over 150 exclusive products — through the Walmart app.
- Free next-day delivery: With no membership fee required, shoppers can order eligible products and receive them the next day. Free two-day delivery is also available on eligible items and the order must be over $35.
- Expanded “Check Out With Me” services: This feature allows customers to avoid lines at the register and check out with an associate wherever they may be within a Walmart store.
- Expanded “DotCom Store” capabilities: Customers can work with associates to place an online order in-store if the product they are looking for is out of stock. The product will then be shipped directly to the customer’s home or Walmart store for pickup.
- A gift finder: The tool allows you to filter by gender, age, price point, and product category and generates specific product recommendations based on the information you input.
- In-store experiences: Starting on Nov. 2, Walmart will host themed events based on popular movies such as Pokémon, Star Wars, and Frozen 2. With more than half of shoppers planning to do in-store research for product and price comparisons, these curated activations may also prove to be lucrative for the retailer.
Target Expands Holiday Fulfillment Capabilities
To further vie with its Amazon incumbent, Target revealed its plan to offer free shipping on “hundreds of thousands of items” between Nov. 1 and Dec. 21, with no minimum purchase amount or membership required and orders arriving as early as the next day. Below is a roundup of additional services Target is highlighting this holiday season:
- Adding $50 million in payroll and training versus last holiday season to “ensure more team members are available to assist guests during peak hours”
- Doubling the number of team members dedicated to fulfillment, including same-day services
- Expanded holiday perks for Target Circle: The loyalty program rolled out on Oct. 6 will provide members early access to select Black Friday deals, daily deals for kids from Nov. 1-27, and special deals throughout the holiday season on popular items
- Expanded “Drive Up” services: The free service provides customers the ability to order products on the Target app and have their products brought to their car, with orders typically ready within an hour and brought outside in less than two minutes upon arrival
- An increased selection of owned and exclusive-to-Target brands
Although Amazon is the most popular destination for last-minute holiday gifts — with 60% of consumers visiting the platform to take advantage of this — retailers like Walmart and Target are shifting their blueprints for the holiday season to provide price value, convenience, and appealing deals and discounts in order to maintain a stake in the race.
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