November 27, 2012, 2:51 PM

Walmart.com: Wal-Mart gets social

The big retail chain tightens the bonds between the web and its stores.

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Wal-Mart spent much of 2012 trying to strengthen the bond between its stores and the web via social networks. For instance, the chain’s @WalMartLabs research arm this summer enabled teachers to digitally submit their classroom supply lists, and online shoppers to buy those items via a new site, classrooms.walmart.com. Then, in August, Wal-Mart said that consumers who Like local stores' Facebook pages would get early access—that is, a two-day head start—to the chain's holiday-only layaway program. The chain, which expects $9 billion in global e-commerce sales next year, in 2012 also upgraded the site search tool on Walmart.com.  The feature determines rank in search results by how well items sell, how many good reviews they earn and the buzz gained in social media.

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