New York City, New York – (StockNewsDesk) – 08/05/2014 —The e-commerce battle is heating up as Wal-Mart rebuilds its website in an attempt to personalize the online shopping experience of each customer. The move comes at a time when Wal-Mart has put Amazon firmly in its crosshairs. The company is launching a new feature which will enable it to show hoppers products that they may like, based on their previous purchases and research – much like Amazon already does. Furthermore, Wal-Mart will also be customizing every shopper’s home page based on their location, weather, and search and purchase history.
For example, if a college student just bought a laptop on Walmart.com, the website might recommend portable speakers, extended batteries and laptop covers. Furthermore, if this college student also happens to live in New York and searches for sports jerseys, the website could suggest Yankees or Giants gear.
In order to improve the online shopping experience, increased personalization is only a part of a series of changes. Compared to Amazon.com, Wal-Mart has lagged far behind in its offerings and customer attractions. All that looks set to change now. The large-scale retailer is looking to boost its online business at a time when its U.S. discount division has seen disappointing sales.
Wal-Mart’s e-commerce has shown a lot of potential over the past year. Its sales increased by 30% to over $10 billion in its fiscal year that ended Jan. 31, while it’s U.S. discount division has had five straight quarters of sales declines at stores opened at least a year. Wal-Mart has identified a big growth opportunity in the online business. Currently, its online sales still account for only a fraction of the $473 billion Wal-Mart generated in overall annual revenue, blown out of the water by Amazon’s $60.9 billion in annual sales.
Personalization for shoppers has become a top priority for traditional retailers like Wal-Mart as they play catch up with Amazon.com, the undisputed champion of the online selling business that pioneered customizing content for shoppers. Knowledge has always been pivotal in every business decision and today retailers are increasingly trying to make sense of customer data retrieved from mobile devices and computers to personalize their websites and consequently boost sales. Along with Wal-Mart, Home Depot and office-supplies retailer, Staples have also been personalizing their own online shopping experience. So much so that a quarter of customers on Home Depot’s home page see product recommendations based on recent purchases or browser history.
Recent moves towards personalization did not come out of the blue, the updates have been given through research and development. Wal-Mart says that customers have responded well to its website improvements in the past two years, including quadrupling the number of items it offers online to 8 million. Updating and personalizing carries a large weight of product development; for example, Wal-Mart saw a 20% increase in shoppers completing a purchase after searching for a product after the company updated its search service.
Purchasing an item on walmart.com takes the user through six screens before finalizing a purchase. In short, walmart.com needs to incorporate 1-click shopping into its website, since the longer you give someone to think about buying a product, the more likely it is that they will get cold feet and abandon the shopping cart. The company aims to replace its confusing and trivial checkout procedure with a one-page checkout in the hopes of keeping customers from bailing on their buying.