Walmart leans into convenience in the lead up to the holidays

The news: Walmart is rolling out three new returns options, and pledging to make “significant price investments in key categories” in the lead up to the holidays.

  • The moves echo similar offerings from retailers like Amazon and Target.

The convenience play: The three new returns options are:

  • An extension of its returns policy so that eligible purchases made on or after October 1 can be returned through January 31, 2023
  • Curbside returns that enable shoppers to return items from their vehicles
  • Returns pickup from home for Walmart+ members in select locations without the need to provide a box or a label

The curbside returns option is similar to the curbside offering that Target announced in February (which also allows shoppers to have a latte delivered at the same time they make the return). Amazon has also sought to make returns convenient by allowing customers to return unboxed items at both Kohl’s stores and Whole Foods Market locations.

A competitive space: Walmart also said it has expanded its assortment of holiday gifts this season with more items, new brands, and more exclusives. It plans to offer “thousands more rollbacks this holiday” on top gifts in categories such as beauty, consumer electronics, and toys.

  • Toys promises to be a competitive category this year with Macy’s adding a Toys R Us store-within-a-store to all its US locations and Target partnering with marquee toy retailer FAO Schwarz to offer certain exclusive products.

The big takeaway: Walmart is wise to look for ways to emphasize convenience as the holidays approach. Offering an extended returns window can encourage consumers to shop earlier, and rolling out curbside returns blunts one of Target’s value propositions.

  • Similarly, highlighting its assortment should help reassure shoppers that the inventory issues that have plagued retailers throughout this year won’t impact Walmart this holiday season.

This article originally appeared in Insider Intelligence's Retail & Ecommerce Briefing—a daily recap of top stories reshaping the retail industry. Subscribe to have more hard-hitting takeaways delivered to your inbox daily.

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