Walmart is testing touchscreens in stores (WMT)

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Walmart Ecommerce Sales

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Several Walmart stores in Texas are testing touchscreens in the toy aisle, TheStreet reports.

The touchscreen monitors allow customers to browse inventory that is available to order beyond what the store currently has in stock. In addition, the screens can suggest items for shoppers, guiding them to best-selling products based on a description of who the toy is for. Customers can order out-of-stock items for delivery to their homes. 

The touchscreen could help Walmart overcome common inventory management issues that retailers face when implementing omnichannel strategies. Despite the benefits omnichannel can deliver, many retailers struggle to match inventory for online and in-store fulfillment, which often results in out-of-stocks. With the new touchscreen, a customer can easily order an out-of-stock toy on the spot and have it delivered straight to their home. The shopping assistance feature may also generate more sales by providing customers with confidence in purchases they are likely making for someone else.

This is just one in a string of recent moves by Walmart to augment its online and in-store experiences.

  • Walmart made a series of acquisitions recently — Jet.com, MooseJaw, and ShoeBuy — aimed at boosting its online inventory and expanding its online customer base.
  • The retail giant also launched new app capabilities to free up in-store traffic and decrease wait times in lines. At the beginning of March, it rolled out features that allow customers to order and pay for prescription refills, as well as fill out forms needed for its money services, on its mobile app. Last year, Walmart launched its Scan & Go tool for both Sam’s Club and Walmart stores in an effort to smooth out its in-store checkout process.

Omnichannel remains Walmart's best line of defense against Amazon. The company posted a 36% year-over-year (YoY) increase in US e-commerce sales in Q4 2016, yet online sales still only make up 3% of Walmart’s top line. This suggests that even with a growing online business, Walmart is unlikely to catch up to Amazon anytime soon. Optimizing the in-store experience is therefore a prudent strategy, particularly given the company's massive physical footprint. In bridging its online and in-store operations, the retailer can better fend off competition from the e-commerce giant by drawing in customers with greater options and more channels through which to shop. 

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