Walmart's holiday deals have already begun, and Target doubles its fulfillment employees. Both mass merchants are offering free shipping, with no minimum purchase for Target and a $35 minimum purchase fee for Walmart.

Holiday deals begin early at Walmart Inc. as the merchant began its holiday savings online this year on Oct. 25, which was 14 days earlier than last year when select deals began Nov. 8. With six fewer shopping days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Walmart decided to offer deals earlier than normal—as well as offering more ways to shop these deals—in an effort to help customers save time, according to a press release.

“We’re making sure this season is the easiest yet for our customers with nine tech-enabled ways to stop for everyone on their list—when and how they want,” said Steve Bratspies, executive vice president and chief merchandising officer at Walmart U.S., in the press release.

Walmart is offering three new shopping tools this holiday season including:

  • Gift Finder: Consumers can shop on Walmart.com using its gift finder, an online tool that allows customers to discover gift idea options for 40 different types of gift recipients. Customers select age, gender and price range, and the Gift Finder auto-populates recommendations.
  • Scannable toy catalog: Shoppers with iOS and Android devices can scan Walmart’s seasonal toy catalog and shop for the specific products in the Walmart app beginning Nov. 1.
  • Free next-day delivery: Shoppers can order hundreds of thousands of products and have them delivered the next day on orders of $35 or more. Walmart says exclusions apply during “peak days” for free next-day delivery. Walmart did not respond to inquiries regarding what specific peak days would be.

Returning features this holiday season include:

  • Check Out With Me: This store feature, which debuted last year, allows shoppers to check out in store aisles with designated employees roaming throughout different departments. This feature is now available in all Walmart Supercenters. Walmart did not specify if this function will be available for non-supercenter locations.
  • DotCom Store: This allows shoppers to place an order online with a Walmart associate if an item is unavailable in store. This is now available in all Walmart Supercenters.

Walmart also offers buy online pickup in store (what they call “pickup today”), free two-day shipping, online grocery pickup and delivery year-round.

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Walmart is No. 3 in the Internet Retailer 2019 Top 1000.

Target adds additional employees and new features this holiday season

Target, No. 16 in the Top 1000, announced its added nearly $50 million in new payroll employees this holiday season, according to a press release. In September, Target announced that it would be hiring 130,000 seasonal team members, including in-store associates as well as fulfillment services employees.

“We’re currently on track to reach that goal. We’ll invest nearly $50 million more in payroll this year compared to last year, and that increased investment is designed to ensure that team members are available to assist guests during peak hour holiday hours, like nights and weekends,” a Target spokesperson said.

Target does not have breakout numbers for each position, but a spokesperson states that there was a doubling of fulfillment services hired this year compared to last.

In addition to new employees, Target also will be offering its Target Circle members—their new, free loyalty program—early access to select Black Friday deals, daily deals for kids Nov. 1-27 and special deals throughout the holiday season.

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Target is also offering two same-day fulfillment options this season:

  • Drive Up: This feature, which finished its expansion to nearly all target stores in all 50 states this past August, allows customers to order items through the Target app and then have items brought to their car at Target locations. Target touts that most orders can be ready within an hour and brought out in less than two minutes upon arrival.
  • Delivery with Shipt: Same-day delivery is now being offered through Shipt through Target.com, but not yet the Target app.

Target again will have free shipping with no minimum purchase required from Nov. 1 through Dec. 21. It also added a section on its site for gifts less than $15, and a section called “Wondershop,” which has curated selections of holiday decorations.

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