With U.S. consumers more apt to buy online more than ever before, Target and Walmart are making e-commerce easier with expanded pickup and delivery for the holiday season.
Target on Tuesday unveiled enhancements to its Drive Up curbside pickup, Order Pickup in-store pickup and Shipt same-day delivery services to give customers more flexibility in holiday shopping. That followed Walmart’s announcement late last week of extended hours, time windows and eligible products for delivery during the holidays.
On the click-and-collect side, Minneapolis-based Target said it has added more than 18,000 assigned spaces for curbside pickup this holiday season and added a new “shopping partner” feature that lets customers send another person, such as a friend or family member, to pick up a Drive Up or Order Pickup order. In addition, customers will be able to stack orders — i.e. place a new order at the same store after their initial order — using the Target app's "Forgot Something" tool, as well as designate backup products for food and beverage pickup orders (excluding adult beverages).
Shipt same-day delivery, meanwhile, will be available for a wider range of products across Target’s assortment, including apparel and accessories, Ulta Beauty items, electronics, toys and now adult beverages. Target noted that it also now has more of its stores in the Shipt network, giving customers greater lattitude in personalizing their deliveries and Shipt personal shoppers more flexibility in where to fill orders.
For the 2020 November/December holiday period, Target saw digital sales jump 102% year over year. Same-day services — Order Pick Up, Drive Up and Shipt — generated 193% digital comp-sales growth, the company reported.
“Our guests love the convenience of our same-day services, and we’ve seen tremendous growth in these offerings over the past year, driven by continued investments in our amazing team members and our stores,” Target Chief Stores Officer Mark Schindele said in a statement. “With even more flexibility in these options this holiday season, we’re ready to make our guests’ Target runs easier than ever.”
To that end, Target has tripled its store fulfillment expert roles over the past two years in support of Drive Up and Order Pickup. And with demand still high for pickup, all new store associates will be backup-trained in same-day fulfillment. Target, too, said it has added experts across the store, with thousands of associates completing training within the retailer’s “shop-in-shop” departments, beauty care, technology, and food and beverages.
“We continue to hear from guests that they love the experience we provide, from the Drive Up lane to the register,” Schindele added. “As we prepare for the busy holiday season, guests can count on our team to deliver the incredible service and expertise they’ve come to expect.”
The customer experience is top of mind for Bentonville, Ark.-based Walmart as well. Last year, Walmart U.S. e-commerce sales surged 69% in the fourth quarter and were up 6.2% on a comparable basis.
Tom Ward, senior vice president of last mile for Walmart U.S., said in a blog post that the retail giant is “making it easier than ever for customers to get what they need when they need it” for the holiday season by extending store delivery hours, adding more delivery time slots and lengthening the list of products that can be delivered from customers’ local stores.
Delivery time of operation will be extended by two hours, enabling drivers to make deliveries from “stores to doors” until 10 p.m. and customers to place orders up to 6 p.m. for same-day or next-day deliveries, according Ward.
“We’re also allowing additional time for customers to amend their order after it’s placed, so if you forget to add a can of pumpkin pie filling for your Thanksgiving meal or you’re in need of a last-minute hostess gift, you’ll have more time to add it to your cart,” he said in the blog.
The expanded delivery time frames come from a new feature on the Spark Driver app. Called Shopping and Delivery, the tool gives service providers the option to shop and deliver customers’ orders, so that if current delivery windows are full, Walmart can continue providing customers the delivery times they need, Ward explained.
And on the product front, Walmart is enabling oversized items — such as bicycles, big-screen TVs and Christmas trees — to be delivered locally from more than 2,800 stores, in as as soon as same day. The retailer also has expanded pickup and delivery of alcoholic beverages, now available at 3,000 stores for click-and-collect and 1,500 stores for delivery.
“Ultimately, we’re giving customers more of what they need — more time, more availability and more items — so they have more time for what they want: more celebration, more joy and more ways to live better,” Ward commented.
According to Advantage Sales’ “Outlook October 2021” grocery industry report, released yesterday, 92% of CPG manufacturers cited Walmart and 81% named Target as retailers that they think are “winning online.” Other retailers cited included Kroger (72%), H-E-B (7%), Albertsons Cos. (5%), Ahold Delhaize USA (5%), Meijer (4%) and Publix (3%). Key factors in “winning online,” manufacturers said, include leveraging new shopper fulfillment options like pickup (cited by 82%) and focusing on the online shopper experience and services (74%).
“Asked which retailers were ‘winning online,’ most manufacturers named Walmart, Target and Kroger the top grocery e-commerce platforms, primarily due to their fulfillment options and the customer experience they provide,” Irvine, Calif.-based Advantage Sales wrote in its report.