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Wal-Mart's website to personalise shopping

PTI | Last Updated: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 15:59

New York: Wal-Mart, in its latest bid to compete with nemesis Amazon.Com, is making changes to its website to personalise the online shopping experience of each customer.

Wal-Mart is rolling out a feature that will enable its website to show shoppers more products that they may like, based on their previous purchases.

It also will customise Wal-Mart's home page for each shopper based on where that customer lives, showing local weather and events, as well as the customer's search and purchase histories.

So if a new mom just bought a stroller or crib on Walmart.Com, the revamped website might recommend diapers and car seats, too. And if someone who lives in Dallas searches the website for sports jerseys, Walmart.Com could suggest Rangers or Dallas Cowboy gear.

The personalisation feature is part of a push by Wal-Mart to improve the online shopping experience of its customers, leading up to a complete re-launch of the site in early 2015.

The retailer is looking to boost its business online at a time when its US discount division has seen disappointing sales.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc.'s e-commerce sales increased by 30 per cent to over USD 10 billion in its fiscal year that ended January 31. By comparison, Wal-Mart's US discount division has had five straight quarters of sales declines at stores opened at least a year.

Wal-Mart sees big growth opportunity in the online business: Online sales still are only a fraction of the USD 473 billion Wal-Mart generated in overall annual revenue, dwarfed by Amazon's USD 60.9 billion in annual sales.

The move to personalise websites for shoppers has become a top priority for traditional brick-and-mortar retailers like Wal-Mart as they play catch up with Amazon.Com, the online king that pioneered customising content for shoppers.

Retailers increasingly are trying to use their reams of customer data they get from mobile devices and computers to personalise their websites and ultimately, boost sales.

Other retailers, including home-improvement chain Home Depot and office-supplies retailer Staples, have been ahead of Wal-Mart in the race to personalise the online shopping experience.

In fact, a quarter of customers who visit Home Depot's home page see product recommendations that are based on recent purchase or browser history, according to the company.
Retailers have seen benefits in personalising their websites for customers, as well as other efforts to improve the online shopping experience.

Overall, Forrester Research analyst Sucharita Mulpuru said that changes in customisation can help lift a retailer's online sales in the mid-single digits.

First Published: Monday, August 4, 2014 - 15:59
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