Wal-Mart's ready to do battle

After alienating shoppers by removing too much variety from its stores, Wal-Mart is bringing back about 8,500 items to its merchandise mix.After alienating shoppers by removing too much variety from its stores, Wal-Mart is bringing back about 8,500 items to its merchandise mix. By Parija Kavilanz, senior writer


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Wal-Mart, stung by an embarrassingly long sales slump, is finally ready to do something about it.

On Monday, Wal-Mart announced it is bringing back thousands of products that were unceremoniously dumped from stores, saying it is ready to roll up its sleeves to win the lowest-price battle with its rivals.

To show its resolve, the world's largest retailer is adding a new tagline to its slogan "Save Money. Live Better." That tagline, which will now appear throughout Wal-Mart stores is "Low prices. Every day. On everything."

"What our customers are telling us is that they want the right products in a one-stop shop at the lowest prices. We're trying to reestablish that message," said Duncan Mac Naughton, Wal-Mart's chief merchandising officer.

Among the products returning to Wal-Mart shelves: Hellman's mayonnaise and Febreze and Glade trigger handle products.

Nationwide, Wal-Mart is also making localized additions to its stores. For example, the retailer is increasing fish supplies in Central Florida stores, adding more ice fishing and ice hockey products in Minneapolis, and boosting inventory of hiking and pool supplies in its Phoenix stores.

Wal-Mart's in a tough spot. Sales at Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) stores open at least a year -- a key performance measure known as same-store sales -- have fallen for seven straight quarters.

Adding insult to injury, not only is the discounter losing more shoppers to its competitors, its chief rival Target (TGT, Fortune 500) has been beating Wal-Mart's prices on some groceries and household products.

After a disappointing holiday season, Wal-Mart executives were quick to admit to a faulty strategy and reiterated an urgent need to fix merchandising mistakes made while navigating through the recession.

Wal-Mart's damage control starts with clearer communication about what shoppers can expect.

Mac Naughton said the "Low prices. Every Day. On Everything" message better communicates Wal-Mart's founding principle of providing low prices day in and day out.

Low prices: Wal-Mart said store managers will check competitors' prices more frequently. The company will press suppliers to lower their costs and will simplify its "ad match" policy.

From now on, if customers find a lower advertised price, Wal-Mart promises to match that price at the register in all stores without requiring shoppers to bring in a competitor's ad as proof.

Giving more choices: After alienating customers by culling too many products from shelves, Wal-Mart is bringing the variety back by adding 8,500 items to stores.

Flags will appear next to the revived brands later this month that say, "It's back."

"We're bringing back products and brands [our customers] want," said Mac Naughton. The retailer has already boosted variety in pasta, snacks and beverages and plans to roll out more products in household goods such as paper towels, toilet paper and laundry detergent.

Later this year, Wal-Mart plans to expand the mix in electronics, clothing, sporting goods and outdoor product categories.

Mac Naughton said the company is exploring other categories including auto and office supplies and home appliances.

"These changes are good for Wal-Mart," said Marshal Cohen, chief retail analyst with NPD Group.

Wal-Mart is feeling the pressure because the discount playing field is much broader today, said Cohen.

Dollar stores weren't considered a threat by Wal-Mart, but recently they've successfully taken on their giant competitor, particularly during the recession.

"But it's not enough to just change the tagline and add more products" said Cohen. "Wal-Mart has to consistently improve and do something new if it wants to regain customers." To top of page

Frontline troops push for solar energy
The U.S. Marines are testing renewable energy technologies like solar to reduce costs and casualties associated with fossil fuels. Play
25 Best Places to find rich singles
Looking for Mr. or Ms. Moneybags? Hunt down the perfect mate in these wealthy cities, which are brimming with unattached professionals. More
Fun festivals: Twins to mustard to pirates!
You'll see double in Twinsburg, Ohio, and Ketchup lovers should beware in Middleton, WI. Here's some of the best and strangest town festivals. Play
Index Last Change % Change
Dow 17,804.80 26.65 0.15%
Nasdaq 4,765.38 16.98 0.36%
S&P 500 2,070.65 9.42 0.46%
Treasuries 2.18 -0.03 -1.27%
Data as of 12:22am ET
Company Price Change % Change
Bank of America Corp... 17.62 0.09 0.51%
Apple Inc 111.78 -0.87 -0.77%
General Electric Co 25.62 0.48 1.91%
Intel Corp 36.37 -0.65 -1.76%
Microsoft Corp 47.66 0.14 0.29%
Data as of Dec 19

Sections

New York Magazine reporter Jessica Pressler, who has been caught up in controversy this past week, will not be moving on to a new job at Bloomberg News. More

Investors beware: These 5 global crises are likely to rattle the stock market and world economy. More

Forums in dark corners of the web sell the kinds of hacks that befell Sony. More

Unilever sued Hampton Creek over its egg-free mayonnaise spread Just Mayo. But the company behind Best Foods and Hellman's mayonnaise has now dropped the lawsuit. More

The income of the top 1% jumped significantly in 2012, far outpacing inflation. Not only did this group make a larger share of the country's income, their share of total taxes also jumped from 35% to 38%. More

Most stock quote data provided by BATS. Market indices are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer.

Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Factset: FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved.

Chicago Mercantile Association: Certain market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved.

Dow Jones: The Dow Jones branded indices are proprietary to and are calculated, distributed and marketed by DJI Opco, a subsidiary of S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC and have been licensed for use to S&P Opco, LLC and CNN. Standard & Poor's and S&P are registered trademarks of Standard & Poor’s Financial Services LLC and Dow Jones is a registered trademark of Dow Jones Trademark Holdings LLC. All content of the Dow Jones branded indices © S&P Dow Jones Indices LLC 2014 and/or its affiliates.