Walmart redesigns website to resemble your local store

Taking on Amazon with a much different marketing strategy

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Walmart wants its website to be comforting and helpful, just like its stores.

The retail giant outlined the philosophy behind a website redesign debuting this week to emphasize what’s popular at your Walmart location in a piece in Fast Company Design.

“Walmart.com is not just a national e-commerce retailer, but actually an extension of your local Walmart,” Jordan Sweetnam, senior vice president for customer experience and product at Walmart U.S. eCommerce, told the publication.

Walmart’s new homepage | Credit: Screenshot/Walmart.com

That philosophy is notable because Walmart’s no. 1 online competitor is Amazon — and Amazon’s website emulates anything but a physical, neighborhood store. Walmart has spent much of the past few years trying to catch up with Amazon, buying Amazon’s only real U.S. competitor Jet.com and kicking off a wave of acquisitions to grow its e-commerce business.

But according to the philosophy the mega-retailer shared, it’s now moved on to trying to distinguish itself from the massive competition.

It’s not like physical Walmart stores are mom-and-pop shops. But, Sweetnam said, the website is trying to mimic some of the specialized displays that workers do create at local stores. The site accomplishes that through strategies like linking to apparel for a local sports team. A module on the new Walmart site also shows three products that are popular in physical Walmart stores near the browser. That information can get pretty granular in cities and towns with multiple Walmart stores, Fast Company Design reported.

Walmart’s trending module. Credit: Screenshot/Walmart.com

Fast Company Design characterized the new Walmart website as resembling a lifestyle brand, although Walmart disagreed. But the product photography on the site does bring to mind staged catalog photos much more than Amazon’s product-only shots.

The site’s suggestions are also specific based on information from your browsing history. Fast Company Design gave the example of the site showing children’s rain gear in age groups that your browsing history indicates match your kids.

Walmart didn’t immediately respond to request for comment from Inman.

In cities and neighborhoods with a lot of physical Walmart locations, the redesigned site sounds like it will have interesting, specific suggestions to offer. And for agents looking to provide more value to their clients looking to furnish new homes or get products for help in moving out, they might have a new option to consider other than driving to Walmart or buying on Amazon online.

Email Emma Hinchliffe