Walmart is once again stepping up its efforts to compete with online giant Amazon, this time launching an overhaul of its e-commerce site with a look that's eerily similar to its greatest foe.
Walmart's tech think-tank @Walmartlabs outlined the changes in a blog post Monday, calling the new design "simple, bold, and modern." Walmart said that as of today it has rolled out the first phase of the new design to half of its customers, while the other 50 percent will begin to see the changes by the end of August.
The updated product pages bear the most resemblance to those on Amazon, particularly the personalized product recommendations and item suggestions that appear in a banner beneath whatever item is being viewed. The new product pages are actually part of the second phase of the redesign rollout, but will work in conjunction with the personalized recommendations that are rolling out now.
Ben Galbraith, VP of global products for Walmart Global eCommerce, wrote in the blog that the new product pages will feature "an increased focus on product imagery, simpler presentation of buying options and purchasing opportunities from our growing marketplace of third-party sellers, and improved item description content and user reviews."
The recommendations are based on a customer's past searches or purchases on the site, as well as on items other customers typically purchased together.
"We're able to deliver much more relevant suggestions because we are now able to draw from the massive trove of data from both online and store purchases," he wrote.
Also on the docket in the first phase of the overhaul: device optimization. The new design was started on the baseline of small tablets and built out from there, with bigger tap buttons and swipe elements making it easier for tablet and smartphone users to search and shop with their fingertips.
And if that wasn't multichannel enough, there's a new My Local Store tool that's designed to help move customers from the Web to the physical store via a widget that highlights in-store coupons and deals. While that may seem like a primitive accomplishment in today's e-commerce age, that clicks-to-bricks capability is at least one area where Walmart has a leg up on Amazon.
Galbraith said the biggest change, however, is one that Walmart shoppers won't see – all new e-commerce platform that's been under construction for the past two years.
"This platform fully modernizes the technology we're using to build Walmart.com and includes our vaunted search engine, our sophisticated personalization and recommendation engines, and other state-of-the-art components that lay the foundation for future updates to come," he wrote.
As for the rest of phase two, @Walmartlabs is also cooking up a redesigned account page with improved access to order status, purchase history and payment options; and a revision to its checkout process, which will become a three-step flow that fits on a single page (rather than five) from start to finish.