A Forrester report points out challenges faced by some business-to-business firms working online.
The retailer’s global e-commerce sales increased 30% in the first quarter.
Walmart.com says it will generate $10 billion in e-commerce sales in fiscal 2014. That is 11.1% higher than it projected in October. Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s fiscal year began Feb. 1.
The updated forecast, disclosed by Michael T. Duke, president and CEO of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., at the retailer’s annual shareholder meeting last week, is fueled by organic growth and the retailer’s investment in China’s Yihaodian, an online retailer that Wal-Mart bought a controlling interest in last year, a Wal-Mart spokesman says. Yihaodian is No. 42 in the Asia 500.
Wal-Mart’s total 2012 online sales totaled $7.7 billion according to Internet Retailer’s estimate in the 2013 Top 500 Guide. Wal-Mart is No. 4 in the guide.
Wal-Mart is using its technology to drive e-commerce growth, says Neil Ashe, president and CEO of Wal-Mart global e-commerce. “Our vision for e-commerce leverage innovation from the company,” Ashe said at the shareholder meeting last week. “We let customers choose when, where and how they want to shop—whether it’s on the web, on their mobile phones or in our stores.”
One noticeable payoff from that effort is the recently redesigned Walmart.com home page, which incorporates tabs catering to traditional online shopping, product discovery and a connection to a consumer’s local store.
The first tab contains a category navigation bar with a large hero shot. A click of the second tab, dubbed Trending Now, displays a grid of products, including best sellers, recently sold items, top search terms and just-reviewed products. The third tab, labeled My Store, displays a map of the store location, its hours, a link to the local ad, best-selling items at the store and a link to coupons to print and use in the store.
“This creates flexibility for the site to cater to the different types of customers who visit us. Some come to shop online for specific products, others come to browse and discover, and still others come for store-related information to plan for their next trip to their local Wal-Mart,” the spokesman says. “And customer response has been very positive, as we see conversion on the home page tab trending higher and fewer people immediately leaving after viewing the page. In addition, conversion rates from the Trending Now tab are nearly double the conversion we typically see on our site.” Walmart.com’s estimated conversion in 2012 is 3.41%, according to the Top 500 Guide.
The site is built using Pangaea, Wal-Mart’s name for its global e-commerce technology platform. “It allows much faster iterations of the site, so we’ll be enhancing the site much more frequently,” the spokesman says.
Wal-Mart also has expanded its online assortment, with the retailer’s executives telling reporters in March the web site was selling nearly 2 million items, 35% to 40% more than a year earlier. Most of those products are sold through other retailers that participate in its marketplace. Wal-Mart no longer is discussing the number of marketplace participants, the spokesman says, but adds the number of them will remain relatively small “as we focus on high-quality sellers.” In March, Internet Retailer reported six retailers participated in the marketplace, but Wal-Mart executives said at the time they planned to invite more to participate.
The six participating merchants are Wayfair LLC, No. 52 in the Top 500 Guide; Plumstruck, which is part of Hayneedle Inc., No. 84; eBags Inc., No. 149; ProTeam (part of Fanatics Inc., No. 43); Tool King LLC, No. 384; and Shoebuy.com Inc., No. 93.