With the past two holiday seasons affected by the pandemic and supply chain disruptions, retailers are not taking chances with the 2023 holiday season. As Amazon and Target kick off holiday sales early, other retailers like Walmart, Pacsun and Bombas are super-charging their holiday strategy with experiential activations, discounts, reinforced smooth supply chains and increased seasonal hiring.
Retail giant Walmart is focused on an enhanced omnichannel experience this season. This week, it launched a new savings event to kick off its holiday shopping season called “Rollbacks and More.” Within that event, Walmart is offering its customers price decreases for deeper savings, three new and expanded returns options, a broader assortment with more top-rated gifts that are frequently purchased, and a new giving platform that supports chosen non-profits nationwide. Through its “Spark Good’ initiative,” customers can track how their roundups are helping a chosen charity via an online dashboard.
“As we’ve seen over the past couple of holidays, customers are shopping earlier than ever,” said Laura Rush, Walmart svp of electronics, toys and seasonal. “We know that, this year, over half of Walmart customers will start their holiday shopping research in October. As with years past, we expect a steady shopping cadence throughout the holiday season.”
Coveo, an AI-powered relevance platform, said in a recent report that 80% of its survey respondents plan to shop the same or more during the upcoming holiday season compared with past years. Forty-five percent said they will start their shopping earlier than usual to find deals and discounts, given the rising cost and dwindling availability of goods.
Walmart is also focused on improving its robust supply chain system and hiring more staff. “Walmart has been preparing for months to deliver through the holidays, and the company has taken steps to ensure it has the products customers want however they choose to shop,” said Rush. “We’re working closely with partners at every stage of the supply chain to ensure a seamless flow of merchandise.”
In addition, Walmart has invested in automation, announcing this week the acquisition of robotics automation specialist Alert Innovation. The integration of the technology will allow it to flow products faster through its distribution and fulfillment network, as well as improve the experience in stores for associates serving customers. The company continues to make investments in staffing for its distribution and fulfillment center, as well as its stores. “We are hiring over 1,000 drivers in Walmart’s private fleet, which are part of the 40,000 additional associates we’re hiring in a variety of seasonal and full-time roles. Walmart plans to hire throughout the holidays,” said Rush. “All of these efforts have contributed to strong in-stock levels.”
Likewise, Pacsun is strategizing to entice shoppers with its holiday offering. For the last three years, the company has kicked off its holiday season 2-4 weeks earlier than the year before. This week, the brand’s started teasing early holiday deals via its “early sneak peek PacFriday deals,” a recurring seasonal event.
Pacsun also plans to bridge the digital and physical fashion worlds, after debuting its successful omnichannel metaverse strategy in May. “We are engaging the consumer in new and unexpected ways, across all channels: physical retail, experiential, digital, social and organic strategies,” said Brieane Olson, president of Pacsun.
She added, “We’re focused on reaching our consumer with exclusive product collaborations and brand drops throughout the holiday season.” The brand came out with a Pacsun x The Met capsule this week, and it has more activations planned.
“Our brand strategy for the holidays is three-pronged: consistent flows of product newness featuring the latest trends and brand drops, exclusive collaborations, and gifting and providing great value to the consumer,” she said, adding that the company will rely on its brand ambassador group to share holiday messaging and product stories.
Social sustainability-focused Bombas is also marketing holiday earlier this year. “Timing will begin early November and continue through shipping cutoffs for holiday deliveries,” said Kate Huyett, Bombas’s chief customer officer. “This year, we are also adding SMS for marketing our range to our customers, which is new for the brand.”
As with all Bombas products, for each item bought, one is donated to the homeless. “We’re continuing to build on learnings from prior years by being strategic and conservative with inventory, in addition to taking into account the current landscape,” said Huyett. “We always ensure our mission is at the forefront of everything we do, and this year, it is more timely than ever, given the macroeconomic challenges we’re facing.”