Walmart.com undergoes major facelift
Wal-Mart's online unit unveils new look and features ahead of start of the busy holiday shopping season.
NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Walmart.com on Tuesday announced an extensive overhaul that includes a major redesign of the Web site that aims to offer users a shorter checkout process and a "virtual" buying guide to research their purchases online.
Walmart.com said the site redesign affects 1,000 categories, with special focus on home furnishing, apparel and electronics, and more than 2 million pages at Walmart.com.
Among the key features, the company said the new look will allow for fewer than 4 clicks to product checkout from any starting point.
"Given that half of Wal-Mart store shoppers with Internet access also visit Walmart.com, our enhanced online store signals a big step in our transformation to become more relevant to our customers, especially in how they shop for quality, information and value at Wal-Mart," John Fleming, chief marketing officer for Wal-Mart Stores, said in a statement.
The site has also added CNET buying guides for customers to research products online ahead of a purchase.
In a live Webcast to discuss the redesign, executives from Walmart.com said the company spent more than a year on the relaunch and incorporated customer feedback into the changes.
"The goal was to make the site easy and enjoyable to use. Moreover, we want the site to help customers take the guesswork out of what to buy by providing as much information as we can about products," said Carter Cast, CEO of Walmart.com.
Heading into the busy holiday shopping months of November and December, Carter said Wal-Mart.com will be adding thousands of new gift products to the Web site, including two carat diamond rings, Sony's much-awaited Playstation 3 and a 50-inch flatscreen TV.
Indeed, the fourth-quarter holiday period is a crucial time for discounters like Wal-Mart (Charts), Target (Charts) as well as other department store and specialty merchants like J.C. Penney (Charts) and Gap (Charts) since it accounts for as much as 50 percent of these retailers' annual profits and sales.
Wal-Mart's already signaled that it intends to be very aggressive over the holidays. The retailer typically launches its holiday discounts on Nov. 1. However, Wal-Mart set the ball rolling earlier than usual when it announced steep discounts last month on more than 80 of this year's must-have toys.
Given Wal-Mart's bellwether status, industry watchers expect other retailers may be forced to respond to Wal-Mart's pricing challenge by also setting deep discounts on holiday offerings over the coming weeks.