Will Walmart’s Click & Collect Strategy help them Win vs. Amazon?

Amazon vs. Walmart is an eCommerce battle whose development pundits have been watching for years. Recently, Walmart has moved to develop their Click & Collect capabilities as a competitive advantage in eCommerce. In France & the U.K., retailers are leveraging Click & Collect to drive overall eCommerce growth – and they’ve been wildly successful. eCommerce represents 5.5% of all grocery retail in France, and 7.3% in the U.K., as opposed to only 1.5% in the US. Walmart is looking to emulate European retailers’ successes in Click & Collect as a way to hold off Amazon in eCommerce.

Click & Collect is especially important in the Christmas season, when shoppers are aware of stock issues and want to get products into their hands quickly – without having to wait to see if a delivery makes it in time for Christmas.

Amazon is still only in the very beginning phases of developing a true Click & Collect capability, though they may leverage this summer’s acquisition of Whole Foods as a way to accelerate. Amazon’s main bulwark against Walmart’s Click & Collect capacity is its Prime Now service – which delivers products to eCommerce shoppers in a matter of hours.

To test Walmart’s Christmas Click & Collect capabilities vs. Amazon’s local service, Clavis has set out to monitor the price and availability of the season’s must-have toys and hottest electronics products across 24 US cities.

It is critical that Brand manufacturers have their products available for purchase online and in-store during the key Holiday shopping season. As shoppers adopt Click & Collect, it is becoming increasingly vital that manufacturers can ensure their key products are available at the right locations across any market. As we move through the Christmas season (and we continue to report on this Amazon vs. Walmart local rivalry), manufacturers will be able to see, first hand, each retailer’s ability to keep products available for purchase at the local level.

Walmart vs. Amazon: Local Availability

Overall, Amazon achieved an 89% availability rate across the 24 cities in the electronics category, and a 92% availability rate for those in the toys category. Walmart’s performance was well below these marks in the local outlets, posting only a 65% pickup-available rate for the electronics category, and a 66% rate in the toys category.

In general, Walmart’s stock rates took a hit on Black Friday, dropping 10% day over day to 62%. Walmart was able to battle back, bringing the stock rate up to 64% on Saturday, before getting barraged on Cyber Monday – dropping the availability rate in local eCommerce markets to 61%.

Whereas Walmart’s performance across the cities was fairly even, it was very rocky from product to product. One of the year’s hottest toys – LEGO’s Princess Belle Castle (of Beauty & the Beast fame) – was all ready to go, available for Click & Collect purchase at all 24 locations on the Thursday before Black Friday. By the end of Black Friday, it was no longer available in any of the 24 city locations monitored. By Saturday, Walmart had restored stock for eCommerce pickup only in Sacramento, San Antonio & San Diego. Through the rest of the week, Princess Belle was available in only seven cities.

iRobot’s Roomba had a dickens of a time staying available for Christmas pickup at Walmart locations. The popular automatic vacuum was available for pickup in all 24 locations on Black Friday, but by Saturday, was only available in 6 (Nashville, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix, Sacramento & San Antonio). After Cyber Monday, it was unavailable in all 24 monitored Walmart locations for the rest of the week.

By contrast, Amazon’s local service – Prime Now 2-hour delivery – posted stellar numbers and great consistency in availability. Prime Now’s electronics products saw 89% availability across the 24 cities over the week, and the toys were even higher, at 92%. In Seattle (Amazon’s flagship city), Prime Now never went out of stock on any item, posting a 100% availability score for all products, all week.

Amazon did have challenges city-to-city, and product to product, however. Audio Technica’s popular turntable was unavailable all week in 12 of the 24 markets, including Manhattan and Los Angeles. In Nashville, the product was only available 2 days all week.

More to Come!

Availability to purchase is the first element manufacturers and online retailers need to get right if they are to have a successful end to the year -  see the recent webinar ‘Now You See It, Now You Don't: The Impact of Online Channel Availability on Consumer Behavior and Sales.’  

We’ll continue track the products over the coming weeks to see how the online retailers keep up with demand, so look for more updates in the future.

by Danny Silverman

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