Not long ago, shopping on Black Friday used to mean jammed highways and crowded malls. Online shopping has changed all of that. As the meaning of Black Friday has changed, so has the type of company that benefits most from the biggest shopping day of the year.
In my opinion, Walmart (WMT) - Get Report is the biggest retail story of 2017. When it became clear that the mega retailer had a plan to take on Amazon (AMZN) - Get Report head-on, the online retail game changed.
Here's why I love this company for Black Friday: Amazon can't compete with Walmart's bricks-and-mortar locations. That's right, Walmart will use the same factor that is crippling so many retailers as a weapon to beat the online retail giant.
The key is the returns process. Walmart recently streamlined this process, via a new initiative called Mobile Express Returns. Using an app, customers can now return products to a Walmart location in under a minute.
The Mobile Express Returns program will boost sales by driving traffic to Walmart stores. A recent UPS survey indicates that 70% of shoppers who return items to stores wind up making additional purchases. This gives Walmart a huge advantage.
Amazon, which was able to trounce its competition due to its lack of physical locations, now finds itself at a disadvantage. Short of a massive merger, there is simply no way for Amazon to close the bricks-and-mortar gap with Walmart.
This holiday season, as far as Walmart is concerned, there will be many happy returns.
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Editors' pick: Originally published Nov. 17.
At the time of publication, Ponsi was long WMT.