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Wal-Mart Makes Online Holiday Buying Easy: What About Others?

If you haven’t completed your holiday shopping yet, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. WMT surely has some good news for you. This supermarket giant, which is leaving no stone unturned to evolve with the changing consumer trends and combat competition from Amazon AMZN, came up with plans to ease eleventh-hour shopping.

Wal-Mart’s Plans for This Holiday Season

Well, there were rounds last week that this holiday season, Wal-Mart plans to significantly increase its Walmart.com offerings available for same-day pickup in stores. Notably, this big-box retailer has grown its offerings on Walmart.com by roughly three times over a year. As the company expects demand for same-day deliveries to double in the last two weeks of the holiday season, it plans to strengthen its online assortment more than it had ever done before.

Further, per a CNBC report, customers can shop on Walmart.com for items noted "Free Pickup Today" until 4 p.m. on Dec 23, and can pick up those products from the company’s stores until 6 pm on Christmas Eve. Also, the big-box retailer came up with another enticing plan, of filling some online order cases with unloaded gift cards. These cards will allow customers to make another gift purchase by adding funds to it.

We believe that this last-minute online shopping and pick up in store option is likely to be a bliss for customers. In fact, this step also strengthens Wal-Mart’s competitive position against e-commerce king Amazon. Clearly, these moves reflect Wal-Mart’s aggressive efforts to resonate with the changing trends and make the most of the holiday season.

Well, this is not Wal-Mart’s first attempt to make most of the opportunity. This is evident from the company’s recent strategy of keeping its online prices almost on par to that of Amazon this Cyber Monday. Sources revealed that Walmart’s prices were just 0.3% higher than Amazon’s, reflecting the company’s efforts to gain a good share this holiday season.

What Other Retailers Are Doing?

Notably, the U.S. holiday season is the most important time for retailers who garner a significant chunk of revenues during this period. Consequently, retailers go all out during the season, with early-hour store openings, huge discounts, promotional strategies and free shipping on online purchases. This is visible from the holiday season strategies undertaken by many industry players, other than Wal-Mart.

Evidently, Target Corp. TGT announced weekend deals and discounts on select categories (which don’t usually appear for sale in the company’s stores and online) in the beginning of this holiday season. The departmental biggie further stated that it will have weekend offers throughout the season. We also commend Target’s efforts to enhance online shopping during the busy selling period, with its free holiday shipping, Ship from Store, myCheckout, Order Pickup and Target Restock programs, among others.

Best Buy BBY is also taking initiatives to boost up sales this holiday season as evident from its “20 Days of Doorbusters” event. With lucrative offers, free shipping, price match guarantee and enticing gift ideas, this consumer electronics retailer is set to make most of this holiday season. Apart from this, Kohl’s KSS and GameStop GME are also luring shoppers with impressive deals and the online shopping and pickup at store facility.

Incidentally, the National Retail Federation projects November and December sales (excluding autos, gas and restaurant sales) to rise 3.6-4% year over year to $678.75-$682 billion, which also fares better than the five-year average sales growth of 3.5%.

All said, we believe that in an Amazon-dominated world, these retailers’ superb game plans should help them win over customers this holiday season. While Target, Best Buy, Kohl’s and GameStop carry a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold) each, Wal-Mart boasts a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) thanks to its fantastic past performance and successful endeavors to resort to the dot.com bandwagon. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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