Show how much you really don’t care

C’mon people. Christmas comes the same time every year and every year there are those scrambling to make last-minute purchases. Walmart is looking to appeal to this shopper segment with some interesting solutions that leverage its multichannel capabilities and give new meaning to the phrase “last minute shopping.”

The company’s Pick Up Today service was being aggressively promoted with email marketing and social media efforts to remind gift-givers products ordered online by noon on Christmas Eve would be available for pick up in store by 6 p.m.

That’s a convenient option for those who waited, but it is also somewhat of a risky undertaking for Walmart with a lot of moving parts to make store level operators nervous and susceptible to outrage on the part of customers. Imagine a shopper who bites on the service offering, orders online for same day pick-up and arrives in store only to discover the merchandise can’t be located even though the online system showed the product in-stock. It won’t be a pretty sight at the customer service counter, even though it is the customer who sabotaged his or her holiday by waiting until the last minute.

It would be nice to believe the system will work flawlessly, inventory will be in place and there will be zero disappointed customers when the merchandise pick up cutoff arrives at 6 p.m. Christmas Eve. But that just doesn’t seem likely considering the potential already exists for issues to arrive with the order online/pick up in store same day service offering. Then, layer on the fact that store level inventories are likely to be in a distressed situation, and there will be a general level of insanity in stores on Saturday, Dec. 24 and conditions are right for difficulties to arise.

If that proves to be the case, the distressed shoppers could surely substitute something or resort to the ultimate fall back plan. They can send one of Walmart’s 61 different e-gift cards in amounts ranging from $5 to $200. This is truly a last minute gift-giving option for those who like to live dangerously since the technology exists to order an e-gift card on a mobile device Christmas morning and have it sent to a recipients email address within minutes so they can view on a smartphone while the family is huddled around the tree Christmas morning.

Oh, you shouldn’t have.