News Feature | August 6, 2014

Walmart Personalizes E-Commerce For Sales Boost

Source: Innovative Retail Technologies
Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Personalized online shopping experience based on weather, location, and previous purchase history

In its latest attempt to further compete with Amazon, Walmart is rebuilding its website to further personalize the online shopping experience. The new features will enable the website to display more products to customers that they may like based on their previous purchases. It will also customize the homepage for each shopper based on their location and local weather, as well as the customer's search and purchase history.

According to a Walmart blog post, this updated now tailors itself to individual customers, personalizing much more of the content than ever before based on many aspects of a customer’s history with us. The new design has also increased the quality and frequency of the personalized item recommendations we make throughout the site. These recommendations may be based on a customer’s past searches or purchases on the site, but can also suggest items that other customers typically buy along with the item a customer is shopping. Now the site is e able to deliver much more relevant suggestions because it is now able to draw from the massive trove of data from both online and store purchases.

Through its personalization efforts, the retailer hopes to boost its business online during a time that the industry has seen disappointing sales. The updates are a part of its efforts to improve the online shopping experience for its customers, with several additional updates over the next several months.

Personalizing its website has become a top priority for the retailer, using its amounts of customer data from mobile devices and computers to boost sales. Many retailers have reaped the benefits of website personalization, as well as improving the online customer experience – changes in customization can help lift a retailer's online sales in the mid-single digits, according to Sucharita Mulpuru of Forrester.

Walmart has stated that its customers respond well to improvements made across the website, which included quadrupling the assortment of items it offers online to eight million. Further, Walmart reported a 20 percent increase in shoppers completing a purchase after searching for a product when the retailer updated its search tool.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s e-commerce sales increased by 30 percent to more than  $10 billion in its fiscal year that ended Jan. 31. By comparison, Wal-Mart's U.S. discount division has had five straight quarters of sales declines at stores opened at least a year. Wal-Mart sees big growth opportunity in the online business: Online sales still are only a fraction of the $473 billion Wal-Mart generated in overall annual revenue, dwarfed by Amazon's $60.9 billion in annual sales.

Among the other changes, Wal-Mart has redesigned the site to cater to tablets as well as other devices. That means that the content and images are now adjusted to the size of the screen. So shoppers will see more columns of products on bigger screens. will be adopting other improvements, as well, including testing a quicker online checkout process over the next couple of months that allows customers to view one page instead of six before clicking on the "buy" button. The company also will be able to update Web pages within minutes instead of days.