Navigating Big-Box Retailers: Holiday 2023 Trends and Strategies

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With the 2023 holiday shopping season approaching, the CommerceNext team researched the key trends and strategies being employed by big box retailers such as Target, Amazon and Walmart, offering valuable insights for optimizing your own ecommerce operations.


  • Early Cyber Sales: Discover how big-box retailers kickstart the holiday season with strategic pre-Black Friday sales.
  • Hiring Influx: Understand the workforce strategies implemented by major retailers to meet holiday demand.
  • Discount-Driven Purchases: Learn the significant impact of discounts and promotions on consumer behavior during the holiday season.
  • Omnichannel Integration: Understand how seamless online-to-in-store experiences are shaping the retail landscape this holiday season.

Early Cyber Sales: Pioneering the Holiday Shopping Rush

This year, 67% of consumers plan to begin their holiday shopping ahead of Black Friday and Cyber Monday (specifically no later than October), reflecting a preference for staggered shopping and a pursuit of comprehensive value amidst inflation.

Big box retailers are jumping on this new consumer trend. Target has introduced Target Circle Week, a week-long event (October 1-7) that allows Target Circle members access to exclusive deals. To further entice early holiday shopping, a “Deal of the Day” program has also been launched this month.

Amazon, in a strategic move to jumpstart holiday shopping, has announced a second Prime Day on October 10-11. This early event provides another opportunity for consumers to seize significant discounts. By initiating this event ahead of the traditional shopping rush, Amazon aims to capture the attention of early-bird shoppers seeking value-driven purchases.

The Workforce Surge: Navigating Holiday Hiring Challenges

Amazon plans to hire a staggering 250,000 workers for the holiday season, compared to the 150,000 it planned to bring in last year. This surge in employment reflects the growing need to meet customer expectations for prompt deliveries and seamless service.

Target is also making a substantial hiring push, aiming to bring on nearly 100,000 seasonal employees. This robust recruitment effort underscores the critical role that a well-staffed workforce plays in managing the holiday shopping frenzy.

Discount-Driven Purchases: Paving the Way for Affordable Holidays

Discounts are projected to play a pivotal role in consumer purchase decisions during the 2023 holiday season, with more than half (52%) of orders being promotional products, such as free gifts with purchases. Only 17% of items ordered are high-end items in apparel, electronics and memorabilia, further emphasizing the dominance of affordable options in holiday shopping lists.

Brett Rose, CEO of United National Consumer Suppliers, advocates for offering discounts even if it means sacrificing margin and profitability on some inventory. This approach aligns with consumer preferences for budget-friendly options during the holiday season.

Seamless Omnichannel Experiences: Bridging Online and In-Store Shopping

Big box retailers are striving to create seamless experiences that bridge the gap between digital and physical storefronts. Walmart is enhancing convenience by introducing curbside returns at select stores in October, a move designed to streamline the returns process for customers. In addition, the recent Target Circle Week featured special promotions for in-store shoppers.

This integration of online and in-store experiences is pivotal for capturing the attention of modern shoppers. As consumers increasingly expect a seamless transition from browsing online to experiencing products in-store, retailers must invest in technology to facilitate this transition.


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1. How do big box retailers like Target, Amazon, and Walmart plan to address potential supply chain disruptions during the 2023 holiday season, given the ongoing challenges in global logistics and shipping?

Big box retailers are likely addressing potential supply chain disruptions during the 2023 holiday season through various strategies. These may include diversifying sourcing locations, securing additional inventory ahead of time, implementing more robust inventory management systems to monitor stock levels closely, and establishing contingency plans for alternative transportation routes or modes in case of disruptions.

2. In what ways are big box retailers leveraging data analytics and customer insights to personalize early Cyber Sales and promotions for different segments of shoppers, considering the diverse preferences and behaviors of their customer base?

Big box retailers leverage advanced data analytics and customer insights to personalize early Cyber Sales and promotions in several ways. They may analyze past purchase history, browsing behavior, demographic information and engagement with marketing campaigns to tailor promotions to different customer segments. Additionally, they utilize predictive analytics to forecast demand and determine which products are likely to resonate with specific customer groups, enabling them to offer targeted deals and discounts.

3. What innovative technology solutions are big box retailers implementing to enhance the omnichannel shopping experience, beyond initiatives like curbside returns, in response to evolving consumer expectations and preferences in the digital age?

To enhance the omnichannel shopping experience, big box retailers are investing in various innovative technology solutions beyond initiatives like curbside returns. These may include implementing advanced mobile apps with features such as in-store navigation, personalized recommendations, and seamless checkout experiences. Some retailers are also experimenting with AR and VR technologies to allow customers to visualize products in their own space before making a purchase. Additionally, chatbots and virtual assistants are being deployed to provide real-time assistance and support to shoppers across multiple channels, further blurring the lines between online and in-store shopping experiences.