Walmart learns social media lesson for BTS

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Classrooms by Walmart is the name of a new social media initiative the retailer launched Tuesday to simplify back-to-school shopping for millions of moms who view the season as an opportunity for a fresh start.

Walmart digitized every school supply list it could get its hands on to create an online compilation of thousands of lists representing schools in all 50 states and Washington, D.C. The online list offering complements the availability of lists the retailer also provides in stores. Classrooms by Walmart is the latest innovation to come from the retailer’s @WalmartLabs online and social media think tank. The company said it is the first major retailer to digitize thousands of school supply lists and said new lists would be added throughout the summer as they become available.

“For the moms who shop our stores, back-to-school isn’t just about checking items off their lists. It’s about a fresh start, changing routines and getting children ready with products that match their personalities and budgets,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S. “We’re committed to setting our customers up for success this back-to-school season by sticking to our plan — offering everyday low prices and the broadest assortment of the right merchandise their families need.”

Walmart is approaching the back-to-school season with a slightly different mindset this year based on a survey of 1,000 moms conducted in June by the company’s shopper insights group. The results of the research determined that moms view the new school year in much the same way as people view the New Year. It is an opportunity for a fresh start with nine out of 10 of those surveyed making some type of resolution.

Some familiar behavior modifications topped the list. For example, 78% of moms said they plan to get organized while another 75% said they anticipate trying to save more money. In addition, eating healthier was identified as a school year resolution by 61% of respondents, half of whom indicated cost was a factor in achieving that goal.

The findings reinforce Walmart’s merchandising strategy, which is to offer unbeatable prices on the broadest range of merchandise available, including key back-to-school categories. Accordingly, Walmart said it would offer more than 100 items including pencil pouches, lunch totes, notebooks, gel pens and dry erase boards for 88 cents. The company also touted the affordability of its clothes, shoes and backpacks, noting those are the three most important purchases moms make for the school year.

Later this month, Walmart plans to leverage the capabilities of its @WalmartLabs organization further when it launches the Back to School Closet Creator. The online resource is designed to help families on a budget mix and match outfits.