Why Walmart Is Pulling Out All the Stops to Compete With Amazon

In the midst of tough retail times, Wal-Mart isn’t going down without a fight.

The mega-retailer and largest private employer in the U.S. today unveiled its latest omnichannel strategy likely aimed at fending off mounting competition from Amazon.com Inc.

Starting on April 19, the company said it is going to begin offering a “pickup discount” on eligible, online-only (non-store) items that customers buy online and ship to any Walmart store for retrieval.

The discount will initially be available on about 10,000 items.

We will then roll out the discount to more than one million of the most popular items by the end of June,” Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart U.S. e-commerce, added in a post on the company’s website. “We’re creating price transparency to empower customers to shop smarter and choose what’s best for them. Now, they can either pick up and save even more money, or ship two-day for free to home, without paying for a membership.”

For months, Amazon Prime’s promise of two-day shipping on millions of items has sent Walmart — and a bevy of small and large retailers — scrambling to offer faster, cheaper delivery to customers in order to maintain market share.

In January, Wal-Mart started offering free, two-day shipping on over 2 million items, with no need for a membership fee. That move was in addition to the retailer’s digital shopping spree that has spanned the last eight months. Wal-Mart picked up Jet.com in August, the e-tailer ShoeBuy in January and brick-and-click outdoor retailer Moosejaw in February.

“Wal-Mart is the biggest retailer in the world, and they have absolutely no choice but to look for ways that they can become a stronger competitor digitally with Amazon,”  Antony Karabus, CEO of HRC Retail Advisory, told FN last month. “They’re doing the right thing by finding these niches where Amazon is strong.”

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