November 30, 2012, 12:00 AM

Wal-Mart projects two-fifths of web visitors will arrive via smartphone or tablet in Q4

Wal-Mart projects two-fifths of web visitors will arrive via smartphone or tablet in Q4.

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Wal-Mart Stores Inc. says its shoppers are embracing the mobile web this holiday season. Roughly two-fifths of consumers visiting during the holiday rush will do so on a smartphone or a tablet, says Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and digital strategy. That's nearly three times the percentage of mobile traffic from the 2011 holiday season, he says.

To accommodate those shoppers, and keep them buying in its stores, Wal-Mart revamped its smartphone app to focus on providing information to customers in Wal-Mart stores. "We think of mobile as the glue that binds our online and offline channels together to provide a seamless experience to our customers anytime and anywhere at the tap of a finger," Thomas says.

For the holidays Wal-Mart released an update that enhances the app's Store Mode functionality. Store Mode brings to the fore features and functions designed to help shoppers make in-store purchases. These features include the local ad, the shopping list, store maps and a QR code reader.

Consumers can tap on items in the local ad to find out more information or add items to the shopping list. The shopping list is tied into back-end store systems, enabling shoppers to check which Wal-Mart stores have a particular product in stock. The shopping list features an auto-complete function that suggests items from the store inventory based on what a shopper has begun typing or, via voice-recognition technology, speaking.

Wal-Mart earlier this year geofenced all of its stores, storing the exact GPS coordinates for its locations in a database the app constantly checks. When a shopper enters a store, the app displays a message asking if she would like to switch the app to Store Mode. During the first two weeks of offering Store Mode, 60% of shoppers receiving a prompt made the switch, and the percentage continues to rise, Thomas says.


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