August 5, 2014, 12:32 PM

Walmart.com eases into a new design

The mass merchant e-retailer is rolling out a new site with features and functions built on Pangaea, its in-house technology platform. It is also overhauling product pages and the checkout flow. A fully redesigned e-commerce site is coming soon.

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Some Walmart.com shoppers are encountering a host of new or improved features on the e-commerce site as part of a redesign the mass merchant is rolling out in phases. In addition to a freshened overall look, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says it is increasing the amount and quality of content tailored to individual consumers and providing shoppers more information about what’s happening at their local Walmart stores. It is also overhauling product pages and the checkout flow.

“Aside from a new bold and modern web design, these updates make the site easier to use on tablets, and helps customers shop faster and discover new products through personalization,” a Wal-Mart spokesman says.

Walmart.com increased its global online sales by more than 30% in its last fiscal year to more than $10 billion, according to Internet Retailer estimates, and has projected its total online sales will top $13 billion this year. It is the fourth-largest web retailer in North America by sales, according to Internet Retailer’s Top 500 Guide.

The new Walmart.com is being built on Wal-Mart’s in-house technology platform, dubbed Pangaea, the spokesman says. Walmart has been developing its technology platform since 2011 to bring many e-commerce functions in-house and have all 10 of its localized e-commerce sites around the world work on the same platform. For example, Walmart.com began using its own site search tool built on Pangaea in August 2012 and last year said it had improved conversions by 20%. Wal-Mart CEO Charles Holley said in May that the company will roll out Pangaea for all of its e-commerce sites worldwide by the end of the year. Walmart’s e-commerce site in Brazil, for example, rolled out its redesign last fall. Wal-Mart Latin America is No. 4 in Internet Retailer’s 2014 Latin America 500.  Besides the United States and Brazil, Wal-Mart has e-commerce sites in Canada, the United Kingdom, China, Japan, Mexico, Argentina, Chile and South Africa.

In a blog post, Ben Galbraith, vice president of global products for Walmart Global eCommerce, says the e-retailer based the design for how it would render on small tablet computers, then built it out for larger screens. Information about how the site will work on smartphones wasn’t immediately available.

Consumers, he says, can expect to see much more content and product recommendations tailored to them based on their individual shopping histories with the retailer online and in stores. “We’re able to deliver much more relevant suggestions because we are now able to draw from the massive trove of data from both online and store purchases,” he says.

This spring Wal-Mart began offering store shoppers in the United States an option to have their receipt sent to them via text. At the time, Gibu Thomas, Wal-Mart’s senior vice president of mobile and digital media, said that the retail chain would use such purchase data to send personalized offers to shoppers who opt into the program, and that it would also mine the data to provide new services for shoppers.

The on-site personalization extends to the consumer’s location. A new “My Local Store” section of the site will display news and offers for the shopper’s local Walmart store. Half of visitors to Walmart.com today are seeing the My Local Store and new personalization features, and the spokesman says the rest of visitors should see them by the end of August. “We’re being very deliberate about how we roll out these changes, taking it a step at a time and working closely with customers to get their input and making improvements as we go,” he says.

Wal-Mart also plans to launch a redesigned product page and checkout flow soon. The product page will have larger photos and include listings from marketplace sellers, Galbraith says, along with improved descriptions and user reviews. Some product pages will suggest consumers buy in one visit items commonly bought together. An example detailed in Galbraith’s blog post displays on a product page for a KitchenAid Stand Mixer a stainless steel bowl and beater blade as add-on products.

The three-step checkout process will now take place on a single page, Galbraith says. The checkout will include options for shipping to stores or shoppers’ homes, and in-store pickup at local Walmart stores.

 

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