Virtual reality helps prepare Walmart for the holidays
A big part of the landscape for this year’s Black Friday was shaped as soon as Toys ‘R’ Us disappeared earlier this year, and area retailers are scrambling to fill the toy void.
Training also is a priority for retailers, both for those who’ve added hundreds of workers to the ranks to greet you for the holidays and those who have not.
And the money will be flowing.
Small, independent retailers in the state will average $1,761 in revenue a day, making Washington 18th in the country for average daily sales during the holiday season, according to data science company Womply.
Last year,Thanksgiving and Black Friday earned $7.9 billion nationwide just in online sales, according Adobe Analytics.
To get those dollars and shoppers in stores, retailers of all sizes need compelling inventory and workers who know how to sell.
A lot of the toy promotions will start this weekend. Here are some highlights:
▪ Teaching Toys and Books, with stores in Tacoma and Gig Harbor (Teaching Toys Too) wants you to remember them as your non-chain option.
Neighborhood Toy Store Day is Saturday (Nov. 10), and the Teaching Toys store at 2624 N. Proctor St. in Tacoma is offering 20 percent of its sales to Communities in Schools Ready Set Read Program to boost access to books and libraries throughout the area.
The store’s one-hour story time will start at 1 p.m. Other events will be happening at the stores that day, too.
For more information, go to its Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Teaching.Toys/
▪ JC Penney is partnering with Nickolodeon to give 20 percent off Saturday on Nickelodeon toys from 11 a.m.-noon. as part of its monthly Kids Zone workhop. Last year the retailer expanded its toy offerings and installed shops in its stores.
▪ Kohl’s is going with a toy store within its store with an “FAO Schwarz experience.” The old-school toy brand juggernaut, which had its own disappearance and comeback, at one time was owned by Toys ‘R’ Us.
▪Speaking of Toys ‘R’ Us, it’s now a renamed pop-up store in area Fred Meyer stores: Geoffrey’s Toy Box.
“We are excited to offer Geoffrey’s Toy Box to our customers this holiday season, which will provide access to toys once exclusive to Toys ‘R’ Us,” said Joe Grieshaber, president of Fred Meyer Stores.
The hedge funds now in control of the Toys ‘R’ Us brand will see how this venture goes with Kroger/Fred Meyer, with hopes to reopen standalone stores next year, according to Bloomberg.
It can be hard find good help, at least in this economy with low unemployment. Retailers are adding all kinds of incentives to attract workers to their openings.
CNBC reported this week that Kohl’s started seasonal hiring in June, with stores nationwide expected to hire 704,000 seasonal workers, the most since 2014.
Walmart didn’t go through the seasonal hiring rounds that other retailers did (workers simply get more hours). Instead, it’s taking training of its workforce to a virtual level at its Bonney Lake career academy so workers are ready.
Virtual reality training was incorporated by the retail giant last year.
Using virtual reality goggles, workers got a crash course on what to expect on Black Friday.
“If you’ve never been in a Walmart store on a Black Friday, and now you’re a new manager, this is a chance for you to see what it’s going to feel like,“ Lisa Petrino, Walmart Academy facilitator, told The News Tribune during a recent training session.
“Should they make a mistake, it’s a very safe place for them to make that mistake here in training, and then it helps them when they are actually in the field in reality.”