Wal-Mart tweaks discount strategy for holiday season
The moves were announced in a media briefing to outline its strategy for the November to December holiday shopping season, a crucial time for retailers during which they earn an outsized portion of their annual profits and sales.
The decision to offer fewer short-term discounts comes at a time when Wal-Mart is seeking to burnish its reputation for low prices amid relentless competition online from Amazon.com, supermarkets and dollar stores. It said customers were frustrated by "gimmicks" and wanted more consistent pricing.
"We will not be beat on pricing this holiday," said Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer for Wal-Mart's U.S. operations, noting its policy of matching rivals' prices at its stores. "If we need to react we will."
Wal-Mart said that it would have more "rollbacks", or discounts that last for 90 days, than the 20,000 offered last year, although it did not give an exact figure. Bratspies said the discounts would be across all categories.
Wal-Mart also said it was introducing a "mobile check-in" function to its mobile phone application that would allow shoppers picking up online orders to easily notify the store when arriving to cut down on waiting times.
Wal-Mart said that it was focusing on in-store pickup as a way to take advantage of its 4,500 stores in the U.S. It has recently expanded curbside pickup for groceries ordered online to 23 markets, with plans to add 20 more early next year.