Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) move is the latest in a growing trend towards personalized websites among traditional retailers, as they try to emulate Amazon’s success in the online marketplace. Other retailers, such as Home Depot have already begun the process of using customer data to influence the items which appear to specific shoppers on their websites.
Wal-Mart plans to launch the new site by early 2015, personalizing the shopping experience using past purchases, search history, location and even the weather. Should there be a heatwave forecasted for New York, shoppers in the Big Apple can expect to see barbecues or swimsuits as suggested items.
Potential for online growth
According to AP, Wal-Mart is “looking to boost its business online at a time when its U.S. discount division has seen disappointing sales”, suffering five straight quarters of declining sales in outlets open at least a year.
On the other hand, e-commerce sales have risen by 30% in the past year to over $10 billion dollars. Wal-Mart sees the potential to increase its share of online sales, which are miniscule compared to the $60.9 billion that Amazon took.
Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said that “changes in customization can help lift a retailer’s online sales in the mid-single digits”, and Wal-Mart hopes to cash in on this trend.
Wal-Mart Improving user experience
In order to increase online sales, Wal-Mart is not just personalizing its website, but increasing its user friendliness. Planned improvements include a flexible screen, which will adjust the number of columns of products displayed according to the size of screen. This is particularly important for a better mobile experience, “as more people move towards small screen e shopping.”
Increased online sales following improvements in accessibility have already been noted by Wal-Mart, with an improved search feature leading to a 20% increase in customers making a purchase.
Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE:WMT) hopes to continue in the same vein by offering a substantially faster, one page checkout process, as well as restructuring the website to allow for quicker updates.