Wal-Mart Takes Its Lumps Online, But Charges Ahead With Refreshed Site
The new site, 13 months in the making, arrives in time for the holiday season.
Wal-Mart has been part of some clumsy moves online lately, from the fake Wal-Marting Across America blog to a hopelessly uncool attempt at teen social networking. But the revamped Walmart.com site it launched last week, after a 13-month overhaul, focuses on what the retailer's known for: moving a lot of goods at low prices.
The overhaul, its first since 2000, includes a new checkout to get shoppers through in four clicks. It also has rich-media features built on OpenLaszlo and Flash, including interactive functions in the toy section.
Yes, this is Walmart.com
Wal-Mart expects about 300 million visitors to the site this holiday season. The revamp comes as Amazon.com got a 12% run-up in its stock price last week after announcing a 24% increase in year-over-year third-quarter sales, to $2.3 billion.
Wal-Mart has had its troubles online. This month, public relations agency Edelman apologized for not disclosing that a blog about two people traveling across the country in an RV, staying in Wal-Mart parking lots, was paid for by a pro-Wal-Mart lobbying group. The Hub, Wal-Mart's experiment in teen social networking, was up for about two months and isn't part of the refreshed site. But Wal-Mart plans to keep trying new approaches online. "Some of the ways work," says Raul Vazquez, Walmart.com's chief marketing officer, "and others are opportunities for us to learn."
The holiday season will test how much Wal-Mart's learned about online shoppers--and whether it has lessons to teach online rivals.
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