In five store openings just this past year, Wal-Mart’s discount division suffered five consecutive quarters of sales loss, while, in its previous fiscal year (ending January 31), Wal-Mart’s e-commerce sales increased over 30 percent to over $10 billion.
The general trend one may notice here is that while brick-and-mortar sales are perennially dropping, there is an ever-increasing demand for digital transaction, and while $10 billion in online revenue is a staggering amount of money, it is nothing compared to the $60.9 billion generated by Amazon.com (News - Alert) annually.
In the world of online retail, Amazon.com has truly cornered the market, having for some time now offered a completely customized Website search tool based on acute customer trends, along with a seamlessly optimized shopping platform for mobile and tablet access.
According to Sucharita Mulpuru of Forester Research, applying customization options to a digital storefront can further stimulate a retailer’s online sales by at least mid-single digit margins.
Currently, Wal-Mart’s in-store sales are more than enough to keep the company afloat, sitting at an intimidating $473 billion in overall annual revenue. However, if online transaction continues to gain consumer favor, it is very possible that in the not too distant future, Amazon’s digital marketplace could eventually supersede that of Wal-Mart’s local presence.
In light of this revelation, Wal-Mart has begun revamping its online storefront, applying some of the innovations responsible for Amazon’s success, as well as some brand new ones. On top of improving search personalization based on the consumer’s order and search history, Wal-Mart’s site now also factors in both their current location, and local weather patterns.
If you are a Boston resident and have searched for baseball paraphernalia at one time or another, expect to receive Red Sox centric search results and promotions. Living in water-logged Seattle; expect to see raincoats, umbrellas, and other rainy weather commodities pervading your suggested purchase list.
Also enhanced is Wal-Mart.com’s mobile and tablet capabilities, featuring a new interface comparable to that of Amazon’s, along with a ‘My Local Store’ function, which allows consumers to remain perennially privy to their store of choice’s specific promotional offerings.
With changes like faster checkout still on the horizon in the coming months, Wal-Mart is already seeing positive results, including a 20 percent increase in shopper search-to-purchase rates.
Bolstering its online item offerings to over eight million, it is clear that Wal-Mart’s intentions are to hit the ground running, taking the market share of the digital retail marketplace by force.
Edited by Maurice Nagle
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