from the BrickAndMortar++ dept.
Walmart is taking a bit of an nontraditional approach to boost sales ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday shopping events by raising prices for products sold online and discounting those same items in physical retail stores. According to The Wall Street Journal, the big-box store has quietly raised prices for household and food items such as toothbrushes, macaroni and cheese, and dog food on its website while the prices in stores remained the same. If there are price discrepancies between online and in-store purchases, Walmart will now highlight this on the product's web listing to encourage customers to buy them from their local stores.
It's all part of an effort to increase foot traffic as Walmart continues to compete with Amazon just about everywhere else.
[...] With the new pricing strategy, a twin-pack of Betty Crocker Hamburger Helper costs $3.30 on Walmart.com, but goes as low as $2.50 if purchased at a store in Illinois. The aim is to also help reduce processing costs and increase online sales margins, since driving customers to stores means less shipping costs for the retailer.
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Walmart is boosting minimum pay across all of its stores and handing out bonuses. The CEO says that it's thanks to tax reform:
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is boosting its starting hourly wage to $11 and delivering bonuses to employees, capitalizing on the U.S. tax overhaul to stay competitive in a tightening labor market.
The increase takes effect next month and will cost $300 million on top of wage hikes that were already planned, the world's largest retailer said Thursday. The one-time bonus of up to $1,000 is based on seniority and will amount to an additional $400 million. The company is also expanding its maternity and parental leave policy and adding an adoption benefit.
"Tax reform gives us the opportunity to be more competitive globally and to accelerate plans for the U.S.," Chief Executive Officer Doug McMillon said in the statement.
The move comes three years after Wal-Mart last announced it was raising wages, spending $1 billion in 2015 to lift starting hourly pay to $9 and then to $10 for most workers the following year. The increase cut into profit and was criticized by some longer-tenured employees as unfair to them. Since then, many states have enacted minimum wage laws, meaning that a "sizable group" of its 4,700 U.S. stores already pay $11 an hour, according to spokesman Kory Lundberg.
Walmart is expanding a "Scan & Go" program from 50 to 150 stores. "Scan & Go" would allow customers to use a smartphone app to scan items and then walk out of the store with them. Kroger is experimenting with a similar "Scan, Bag, Go" program. These are seen as a response to Amazon, which has been trialing delivery of fresh foods and same-day deliveries. Amazon revealed an "Amazon Go" concept brick-and-mortar store in 2016, with no cashiers in sight.
Maybe Walmart's big plan is to give better pay to a dwindling amount of employees.