Social media users were vocal and honest about their issues with Amazon Prime Day and its “Lightning Deals,” but the company still managed to rack up massive sales. Still, that doesn’t mean that traditional retailers like Walmart can’t use this online fallout to their advantage.
If you happened to be on Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere online at all last week, you probably heard a lot about Amazon Prime Day — and what you heard probably wasn’t that good. But what you might not know is that, despite the social media thrashing Amazon got, the online retailer’s U.S. sales actually shot up by 93%.
CNN Money reported that, by Amazon’s estimation, the day produced more sales than the company totaled on Black Friday last year. And when you’re shattering records like that, it’s unlikely that you’re worrying too much about online critics — even when those critics are major competitors.
According to Motley, Walmart won a small victory by successfully provoking Amazon, grabbing its attention with a blog post from Walmart.com CEO Fernando Madeira. But of course, a bit of online snark isn’t going to take much away from the ecommerce giant — the only way Walmart can do that is by finally bringing itself into the digital age.
The Online Arena
Having found itself battling Amazon for quite some time now, Walmart is not exactly hearing this advice for the first time. Years ago, the brick-and-mortar retailer announced it was investing more in the growth of its online sales. When it finally started to do just that, people in high places like the Wall Street Journal started imagining that the online gap between the two companies was actually beginning to close.
But as Mike Kwatinetz pointed out in Fortune, comparing these two companies’ online sales growth is “deceptive.” To put it simply, Walmart grew its relatively small portion of online sales more than Amazon did its much larger one, but in reality, Amazon’s “small” growth far exceeded Walmart’s total online sales. In other words, Walmart has a long way to go if its going to even come close to competing for Amazon’s customers.
Thinking Outside Amazon’s Box
The truth is that the traditional retailer is fighting a battle it can’t win if it thinks it can put a serious dent in Amazon’s sales simply by selling more products online. By limiting the extent of its digital transformation to eCommerce alone, Walmart is playing right into its web-based competitor’s hands. What it should be doing is targeting something that Amazon can’t: the omnichannel experience.
If you’re offering the same products both online and in brick-and-mortar locations, you’re essentially begging the question of whether prices will be better or worse at one or the other. Despite Walmart’s promise to match both competitors’ and online prices at their retail locations, some still maintain that the company consistently offers online shoppers better deals. By merging the physical and online shopping experiences, Walmart can eliminate that question from shoppers’ minds while paving a technologically-advanced path for its future.
Using beacons to direct shoppers to great deals is just one of the ways that omnichannel can assure Walmart’s customers that they’re getting the best price. Online catalogs of available products also eliminate the problem of consumer confusion, a common one amongst retailers like Walmart that have a huge amount of real estate and warehouse space at their disposal.
What’s more, the company could learn something from Starbucks by leveraging its millions of locations and instituting customer loyalty programs. The more often customers have access to a given brand, the more likely they’re going to end up finding use for programs like these.
Walmart has been trying for years to catch up with digital competitors. What it should have learned by now is that you don’t become a leader in digital spaces by catching up — you do it by separating yourself as a pioneer in your industry. And the newest frontier is the omnichannel experience.