It’s been a big week for Walmart, with the company announcing an expansion of its click-and-collect service, updates to its online marketplace, and plans to turn its physical stores into ‘town centres’.
The growing department store/online marketplace has dropped a number of big announcements in Canada and the US, with the first one being the rollout of click-and-collect across 22 Canadian locations.
The free service was previously available at select locations in the provinces of Ontario, Quebec, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba, but will now be available in the cities of Victoria, Regina, Quebec City, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to name a few.
In the past, customers utilising Walmart’s click-and-collect service would be able to make a purchase online or via the company’s shopping app and then find a staff member to assist them with their pick-up when they arrived in-store to collect their order.
Now, Walmart has reportedly introduced ‘mobile check-in’, which allows shoppers to notify their chosen pick-up locations of their arrival up to 30-minutes in advance so their order can be ready for them on arrival.
Shaking Up Online Shopping
Walmart is also planning updates to its online marketplace, which the company says will be available as of November.
Taking a direct jab at Amazon’s Prime membership, Walmart announced on its blog that it would be expanding its free two-day shipping service to include its marketplace sellers “with no membership fee”.
“In the coming months, you will see millions of additional items with the two-day free shipping label as we work with hundreds of our high-performing marketplace sellers to extend the offer to their eligible items,” the company said in a statement.
In addition to expanding its free shipping service, the department store also plans to simplify its returns process through ‘Simple Returns for Marketplace Items’.
“A great product return experience is a top contributor to overall customer satisfaction and repeat purchases, so we’re simplifying the process for marketplace items – all a customer has to do is log in to his or her Walmart account, print out a return label and ship back to the seller. This experience is beginning to roll out now,” the company said.
This new returns process will also be available in-store, with customers having the ability to return eligible marketplace items directly to their local Walmart store. This updated returns process will be available from mid-November.
“With 90 percent of Americans living within 10 miles of a Walmart store, we think this is going to be a real game-changer for our customers.”
Walmart’s Vision for the Future of Customer Experience
Walmart is one of few department stores to realise the importance of offering not only a seamless cross-channel shopping experience but also the value of it extending the customer experience beyond making a simple purchase.
This is something that Walmart is reportedly addressing with plans to turn a number of its physical shopfronts into ‘town centres’.
According to the Atlanta Business Chronicle, Walmart plans to lease underutilised land and parking acreage to build community centres around its supercentres. Announced at the International Council of Shopping Centres event in Atlanta, Walmart says its plan will see the construction of restaurants, gyms and other businesses to make shopping at Walmart part of its customers’ every day lives.
The retailer’s town centre plans are expected to pop-up in more than a dozen locations across the US, with Washington, Missouri, California, Texas and Arkansas all expected to become home to Walmart’s new shopping vision.
“A transformation is underway,” LB Johnson, vice president of US realty operations for Walmart said.
“We are working with the local community to really master plan a vision, not only for Walmart, but shared with the municipality.”
The company expects to break ground on its first supercentre in the coming months in Colorado. The store and community facilities will be built on 12-acres, with an additional six to eight acres of parking space available.
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