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Walmart to Credit Stores for Online Sales

In retail, the sales goal is the sword by which you live or die and with online sales eating into the holiday profits, it’s going to be a tough balancing act for many a store manager. Next year, though, things will be a little better for the manager at your local Walmart.

Starting on February 1, Walmart stores will be given credit for online sales that originate in their area. AdAge says this is just one part of a huge push to make the retail chain a contender in the online marketplace.

Earlier this year, Walmart switched their Facebook page so it presents results at the local level. They’re also experimenting with a variety of shipping options, including ship-to-store. This option allows consumers to shop online, knowing that when they hit the store for pick-up, they’ll likely buy more items before they leave.

Walmart has also taken a big step into the mobile market with an updated iPhone app and a brand new iPad app.  The iPhone app allows shoppers to make their list using voice or a built-in scanner. They can check local stock, track orders, even download coupons for in-store use.

The iPad app is interesting because traditionally, the Walmart customer is in a much lower economic bracket than your average iPad user. Store spokesman David Tovar told AdAge that iPads aren’t just for the wealthy anymore and that they’re a popular layaway item. And maybe an iPad app will be just the thing to pull in those shoppers who wouldn’t even consider stepping inside a Walmart store.

All of this points to the fact that the king of brick and mortar is taking online seriously and it’s a trend that’s going to continue. More and more shoppers are using their mobile device to buy everything from DVDs to groceries, and any chain not poised to take advantage of that is going to have a hard time.

But Walmart’s tactic is particularly smart because it hits on two big marketing trends, mobile and local. It pushes the convenience of online with the immediate results of in-store. And by giving employees credit for online sales, they’re making everyone a part of the same team. Kind of like when Macy’s Santa Claus sent folks over to Gimbels. In the end, it’s customer satisfaction that counts.