More Wal-Mart staff will be assigned to help shoppers pick up online orders in-store. At Target, free shipping on online orders will run through Jan. 1.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has more than doubled its online assortment ahead of the holidays.

Wal-Mart, No. 4 in the Internet Retailer 2016 Top 500 Guide, will offer 20 million items for sale online during the holidays, more than double the 8 million it offered at the start of the year.

The retail chain also is making a push to get online shoppers into its retail locations by expanding the number of items offered through its buy online, pick up in store service. With that in mind, the retailer says more store staff will be devoted to fulfilling online orders and for the first time, a manager will oversee online orders picked up in store.

There’s good reason for this—Wal-Mart says it fulfills up to five times as many buy online, pick up in store orders during the holiday season than it does during the rest of the year.

“Whether our customers are checking items off their grocery lists or their kids’ holiday lists, we want to make their shopping experiences easy and fun,” says Wal-Mart U.S. chief operating officer Judith McKenna. “This includes having clean, fast and friendly stores, an easier checkout experience and enabling customers to shop seamlessly through services like Pickup.”


Industry experts say Wal-Mart is smart to emphasize its stores when it comes to its e-commerce push.

“Retailers and brands need to be on alert with the news of Wal-Mart focusing their holiday strategy on in-store pick up this holiday season,” says Jennifer Sherman, vice president of product and strategy at Kibo Commerce. “Although it is difficult for most business to compete with Wal-Mart on price, they can certainly compete on convenience, which shoppers greatly value during the busy holiday season.  In-store pickup is a highly effective method that retailers can employ to increase foot traffic and put products in the hands of customers quickly and efficiently.”

Wal-Mart isn’t the only major retail chain making an early holiday push.

Rival Target Corp. (No. 22) says it will extend its free shipping promotion for online orders by a week this year, waiving the shipping fee for all web orders through Jan. 1. The retailer’s digital app, Cartwheel, will offer holiday deals, including 50% off one toy per day Nov. 1-Dec. 24. Target also is offering free returns and a price match guarantee on purchase made Nov. 1-Dec. 24, excluding Thanksgiving through Cyber Week.

Office supplies retailer Office Depot Inc. (No. 9) starts its Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals—online and in-store—on Sunday.


“By offering more deals on tech, tech accessories, office chairs and more, earlier in the season and weekly until Black Friday, we hope to take a bit of stress out of the holiday shopping experience,” says Office Depot senior vice president of marketing Diane Nick.