'Tis the season for free shipping, but at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (WMT) , it's been free shipping all year long.
The chain has tripled its online offerings this year for the holiday season, the company announced Tuesday, Oct. 31, and all orders over $35 will have two-day free shipping—a feature that Walmart launched in January to compete with Amazon.com, Inc.'s (AMZN) Prime service.
Walmart is among a number of retailers providing free shipping this year, including Target Corporation (TGT) and Best Buy Co. Inc. (BBY) . Shipping is a big issue for shoppers this year, with 36% of American consumers reporting some frustration with online shopping, according to a new report by shipping software company Pitney Bowes. That's up 5% since last year.
Ahead of the holidays, Walmart will also offer affordable prices on certain items, such as $398 for 52-inch Phillips television, according to Steve Bratspies, chief merchandising officer. "We've got more products online and exclusives than ever before," he told reporters on a media call Tuesday. Prices for thousands of item, including 400 toys, will be rolled back this weekend and remain low until Christmas. Other notable toy offerings include the popular Hatchimals, which sold out last year at multiple retailers, and licensed toys from the movies Star Wars and Frozen, including a $298 sleigh.
"We're buying as much inventory as we think we can handle and sell," Braspies said, on the prospect of selling out popular items. "We're going to be in a really strong position to handle the demand online and in stores."
- Every Retailer Should Fear Amazon's One Unrivaled Business This Holiday Season
- UPS Is Ready For the Holiday Season Onslaught: CFO
Walmart will also ramp up its customer services, directing sales associates in "festive reindeer hats" to man online pickup stations and popular departments, as well as help with checkout.
One way for Walmart to drive online customers to the physical stores is by offering pickup discounts, according to Scott Hilton, the chief revenue officer. Grocery pickup was also expanded, now available at more than 1,100 locations.
For the first time, Walmart nationwide will host holiday parties with product demos. The first party on Nov. 4, for instance, allows customers to to play with toys sold at Walmart.
Like Walmart, Target has its own holidays playbook, which also include store pick-up expansions and in-store set-ups. Target will also roll out its new mobile payment feature with its loyalty card, an app function that Walmart already developed in 2015.
Now check out the retailers that want to hire you this holiday season:
More of What's Trending on TheStreet: