While Walmart certainly overshadows all of its retail competition, Amazon has consistently managed to beat the corporate giant when it comes to online revenue. Unwilling to play second fiddle to anyone, though, Walmart has redesigned its website as a sort of "anti-Amazon" for consumers. While Amazon has a busy feel that has appealed to many, Walmart plans on creating a more curated atmosphere. In the end, this could have huge ramifications for both retailers.
Walmart's Attempts to Win the Online Wars
This isn't Walmart's first attempt at overtaking the online ecommerce king. In August 2016, Walmart acquired Jet.com. Since then, it has been on a buying spree of ecommerce platforms, such as Moosejaw, Modcloth and Shoebuy. The company continued to build its infrastructure by purchasing Parcel in an effort to improve its shipping.
In the short-term, these moves helped increase Walmart's online sales, but this growth quickly faltered. The company even cut back on promoting Jet.com as the website's traffic dropped by nearly two-thirds in a little over a year. Efforts to mimic Amazon features - such as one-button reordering and free two-day shipping - also seemed to fall short.
With Walmart's redesign, however, it appears the retailer has recognized that it cannot achieve success through dated platforms and other companies' ideas.
Opposites Don't Always Attract
Walmart has already attempted to mimic Amazon in some areas, but its new approach seems bent on establishing itself as the exact opposite of the ecommerce site. Whereas Amazon is essentially a large digital warehouse with everything in its inventory, Walmart is now focusing on creating an online presence that mimics its actual stores.
Instead of just displaying never-ending product recommendations, Walmart will focus on offerings that reach people on a personal level. By utilizing previous purchase data, the company can provide specific purchase recommendations. It's important to note that these aren't like Amazon's "Customers also bought this item" recommendations. Instead, Walmart allows merchandisers to curate specific suggestions based on a consumer's purchase profile.
The website can even make spot-on guesses about a buyer's overall intentions. If someone is searching for a queen bed frame, for instance, Walmart.com may assume they're trying to build a bedroom and make additional recommendations based on that assumption.
Offering What Amazon Can't
Amazon has done wonders at building an impressive infrastructure, but there are still a variety of things that the platform doesn't do well. It's these areas that Walmart hopes to take advantage of. In addition to a curated experience that avoids overwhelming consumers, Walmart will focus on a hyperlocal experience. Fortunately for consumers, this means more than local in-store pickup.
Even if a Walmart in Georgia seems eerily similar to a location in Minnesota, there are many products that differ. After all, a cooler in March or Georgia Bulldog items probably wouldn't do well in Minneapolis. Walmart.com is now taking this into account and showcasing locally trending products so its experience is more personal.
This is all combined with imagery that connects directly to individual consumers. Instead of the stock pictures utilized by Amazon, Walmart's photography focuses on putting products in a warm environment. This shows consumers what their actual experience could be like, and how much more "hyperlocal" could a retailer get than in a consumer's real life?
Walmart vs Amazon: Just the Beginning
Walmart's latest attempt to remain relevant in an increasingly digital world is still in its infancy, so only time will tell if the new strategy pays off. The company claims that consumers have responded positively to the changes, and there's little doubt that data will continuously be collected to further improve this experience. While it may be some time before Walmart is neck and neck with Jeff Bezos in the online arena, it appears as if that's exactly what the retail giant is aiming for.
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