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10/18/2021

Walmart and Best Buy Offer Membership Perks Amid Supply Chain Fears

As retailers grapple with supply chain disruptions and consumers face possible out-of-stocks on popular gifts, Walmart and Best Buy are adding benefits to memberships to help ease holiday anxiety.
Jamie Grill-Goodman
Senior Editor
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Black Friday at Walmart in 2019. Credit: Walmart.

As retailers grapple with supply chain disruptions and consumers face possible out-of-stocks on popular holiday gifts, Walmart and Best Buy are adding a perk to their memberships: exclusive access to in demand items.

Walmart just announced it’s bringing back its month-long savings event, “Black Friday Deals for Days,” but it has added something new this year. Subscribers to its Walmart+ program, which costs $12.95 per month or $98 per year, will receive early access to online Black Friday events. The perk will allow members to shop all of Walmart deals four hours earlier than the scheduled start times for all three events being held throughout November. Walmart+ members will get early access to sales from 3-6 p.m. ET on the starting day of the events, whereas all other shoppers will gain access at 7 p.m. ET.

Earlier this month, Best Buy’s launched its new Totaltech membership program for $199.99 per year. The launch comes after it rolled out the Best Buy Beta pilot last April. The new program includes unlimited Geek Squad support, as well as a perk to entice sign ups from holiday shoppers. Totaltech members will get “exclusive access to some of the season’s hardest-to-find products,” as well as access to Member Monday, a new series of special events that offers members exclusive deals on some of the hottest tech. Member Monday will also feature exclusive deals for customers who are a part of Best Buy’s free membership program, My Best Buy. It kicked off Monday, Oct. 18, and will run select weeks throughout the holiday season.

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The new membership perks aim to make sure top customers get their hands on electronics, toys and other products that may be limited this year. Sixty-six percent of Americans are worried that the inability to buy the right items will ruin their holidays, a new survey on supply chain disruptions from Oracle found.

“As supply chain shortages weigh on retailers, many stores are anticipating lower levels of inventory this year, especially for consumer electronics that are being held up in the chip shortage,” says Clarus Commerce’s CEO Tom Caporaso. “That could be an issue for shoppers, as our recent data found that 38% of U.S. consumers plan to buy TVs, phones, laptops and more this holiday season.

“However, Best Buy’s Totaltech enrollees will receive exclusive access to hard-to-find holiday items, a perk that 17% of shoppers said they were looking for in loyalty memberships right now. This could be a huge motivator for initial enrollees that want to get their hands on premium items before their anticipated ‘out of stock’ labels, but the program will keep them enrolled for at least a whole year. While TotalTech has a price tag at $199 per person, it offers a lot of benefits and services that continue after the purchase is made and delivered. By providing free installation, Geek Squad access and additional tech support, Best Buy will attract consumers that would rather pay a fee to avoid setting up and installing tech altogether.”

[See more: 2021 Holiday Retail Forecasts and Predictions]

During Walmart’s second annual “Black Friday Deals for Days” event, Walmart+ members will get early access to electronics as well, such as Walmart’s exclusive HP i3 Laptop for $279 and a 55-inch TCL 4K Roku TV for $228. But the big box retailer also offers something every parent is searching for – toys. Some of the advertised deals include LEGO 442-piece Classic Bricks on a Roll at $20, Bounce Pro 14’ Trampoline at $184, and the L.O.L. Surprise! Amazing Surprise Doll set for $64. 

“We continue to build Walmart+ to be the ultimate life hack for our customers,” Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer for Walmart U.S. said in a press release. “That means we’re there for our customers during the everyday with key benefits like free unlimited delivery from stores and free shipping with no order minimum, but it also means we create extra excitement for them during the big moments, like Black Friday. We’re excited for our Walmart+ members to be first in line for the hottest Black Friday deals out there.” 

Like last year, Walmart will spread out its Black Friday savings to three events throughout November. Each savings event will begin online at Walmart.com and continue with the same deals in Walmart stores. Customers will also have the option to pick up their online Black Friday orders through Walmart’s contact-free curbside pickup service.  

“Our customers count on us to deliver an amazing Black Friday experience with the best prices year after year, and this year we’re making it even bigger and better with more ways to shop and more of every item,” said Scott McCall, EVP and CMO for Walmart U.S. “The team has worked hard to prepare for another outstanding holiday season, and no matter how or where our customers choose to shop – from the shelf in a store, ordering online and picking it up curbside or having it delivered to their front door – they can depend on us for a safe and convenient shopping experience.”