Wal-Mart’s.com got off to a shaky start. For the first time they launched their independent Website in 1996 with no online purchase functions. The first time they launched in January 2000 as a joint venture, weak and subsequently fully acquired by Wal-Mart. In 2003 it finally became fully acquired by Wal-Mart and has grown to become one of the leading online shopping destinations. For example, it competes with industry leaders like Amazon.com and eBay.com.
This company’s latest initiative to revamp the site is about providing more information, broadening their product assortment and improving service to their customers. Wal-Mart overall is great at building the business primarily through organic growth but not necessarily at marketing. The last couple of years, Walmart.com has had their heads down, building infrastructure. It’s time for them to look up and get some action.
“Up to now, Wal-Mart.com has remained an E-commerce midget. It ranks No. 43 among online shopping venues, according to Media Metrix, trailing such upstarts as eBay Inc. and Buy.com Inc. While Amazon.com Inc. hauled in nearly 10 million visitors in May, Wal-Mart.com welcomed only 801,000. For the year, some analysts expect Wal-Mart’s Web effort to generate sales of under $50 million vs. $157 billion total sales for the chain” (Byrnes, 1999).
Walmart.com has achieved services that include: Baby Connection, DVD Rentals, Gift Registry Help, Bonus Track Downloads, Music Downloads, Online Pharmacy Help, Photo Center Help, Ship to a Wal-Mart Store, Vision Center Help, Wal-Mart Advertised Values, Wal-Mart Connect ISP, Wal-Mart MasterCardfrom Chase, Wal-Mart Tire & Lube Express and Wal-Mart Vacations.
The Wal-Mart site will now let customers select and buy products online or pick them up at a these Wal-Mart store, some of these products including: digital cameras, contact lenses, tires, pharmacy and photos.
They’re looking for opportunities to grow and cut costs. That includes expanding the online furniture category and making the online DVD rental service and discount internet service more competitive with other companies. For example, people that are able to buy DVD’s in the Wal-Mart stores or on Wal-Mart.com; can now rent them online through Wal-Mart.com, a service that is competing with a popular online movie rental site like NetFlix.com.
Wal-Mart.com is now accepting checking account in the form of online payment options from customers who don’t want to use a credit card or perhaps don’t have one. Accepting checking account numbers from online customers adds a new payment option for customers and opens the doors to a lot of potential customers who may not have signed in before.
“Drop it. Digital processing technologies such as those used by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and the skyrocketing adoption of online bill payment are reshaping the $ 30 billion business of printing, transporting, and processing checks. Driving the transformation are banks, credit-card companies, and merchants eager to simplify an antiquated system that involves as many as 28 middlemen” (Park, 2004).
On December 16, 1999 Wal-Mart and AOL (America Online Inc.) decided to form a strategic alliance to provide communities with low cost Internet service. This move would enhance Wal-Mart’s Web Site accessibility as well as push AOL’s software and attract new Internet customers.
Wal-Mart.com’s secret to success is giving their customers what they want. And really, thinking about it from a customers point of view, customers want everything: a wide assortment of good quality merchandise, the lowest possible prices, guaranteed satisfaction with what merchandise bought, friendly knowledgeable service, convenient hours, free parking and a pleasant shopping experience.
“For starters, the new site’s merchandise selection is expected to be extensively pared down from the previous 600,000 items — and heavily focused on best-sellers in key categories, such as toys. After suffering delivery troubles last year, Wal-Mart has beefed up its fulfillment efforts by hiring partner Airborne Logistics, in addition to Fingerhut” (Zellner, 2000).
Their online customer experience consists of many elements, some of them subjective in nature. But other variables of customers’ experience on a this site such as whether a site provides adequate product descriptions or gives shipping and tax charges early in the checkout process can be quantified. On these aspects of how well a site meets customers’ needs, is measured from the time the shopper identifies a product to be purchased.
E-commerce businesses, like Wal-Mart.com, have freed customers’ from fighting the crowds and lugging packaging, such as gifts. Legions of consumers will turn to the Internet this year, spending more money than ever. Wal-Mart.com is expected to grow substantially over the next couple of years. But they don’t anticipate the extraordinary rates of some past years, because of the industry’s maturity and tight budgets in many U.S. households.
Companies are nevertheless enthusiastic. Most prominent retailers have overcome their early missteps on the Web and become profitable. The kinds of products that shoppers buy online have gradually expanded since the early days of e-commerce, when consumer electronics and computer hardware dominated.
Apparel vaulted to the top category in terms of dollars spent. Clothes have gone from being a problem for some retailers because of the high cost of warehousing and shipping to a major source of sales. In a sign of the category’s ascendancy, Walmart.com returned to selling apparel this year after shuttering that department in the beginning of the 20th century.
It’s impossible to say whether Wal-Mart.com is less reliable than traditional ones. However, it has mostly cleaned up its act when it comes to shipping products on time. It is too soon to know how widespread the free shipping offers will be this year. The same goes with product discounts, another way Internet retailers lure customers. The spread of broadband to about half of all Internet connections in the United States is helping change the face of online shopping. Shoppers with broadband shop more frequently online and spend more.
Wal-Mart.com is reacting by offering more audio and video that would otherwise be too cumbersome for visitors to download through dial-up connections. While they remain as committed as ever to meeting the needs of their on-line customers, it is clear that the next evolution for Wal-Mart.com is to establish an even deeper integration between their online business and the operation of our Wal-Mart stores. Clearly, customers today want to shop and seek information through both on-line and off-line channels. The best and most practical way for us to address these opportunities is to do so from within one company.
Wal-Mart.com has many other intangible ways like foregoing representations. Wal-Mart.com requests that the staff confirm that customers are happy or it will enforcement action if they are not happy.
Wal-Mart offers customers the most accurate and satisfying search experience for online shopping today. It combines a next-generation search with Guided Navigation – a patent-pending technology that allows customers to quickly and easily find results and choose the most relevant and desirable products and information.
For example, a search at Walmart.com for “Star Wars” returns 890 results, topped by three predefined best sellers and accompanied by refinement options that break those results down by department or product category: electronics, toys, video games, books, movies, music, brands and price range. By selecting the “Building Sets & Models” option, the customer can narrow results from 890 to seven products in a single click of the mouse.
In conclusion, free shipping has become a staple of online shopping for most e-commerce Web sites over the years. But Wal-Mart.com doesn’t do this. Morerecently, Web sites have given the bonus only to shoppers who spend over a certain amount, such as, Amazon.com when you buy $25 or more the shipping is free. Whereas, never resisting change has been a proven policy at Wal-Mart over the years. It is expected that, Wal-Mart.com is becoming a leading retailer in the United States, both online and offline
Adding advanced search functionality to retail Web sites like Wal-Mart.com has proved itself to other industries and dramatically improved the customer’s online shopping experience while benefiting through boosts in conversion rates and sales revenue. Wal-Mart.com is quickly becoming one of the top choices for the world’s most successful E-commerce website’s to shop from. Wal-Mart.com site is based on commerce search, navigation, and merchandising with an unparalleled knowledge of mass to create a highly-rewarding shopping experience for each and every customer on the most demanding and heavily trafficked online storefronts.
Worked CitedByrnes Nanette. “When Wal-Mart Flexes Its Cybermuscles.” Business Week. 26 July 1999. Park, Andrew. “Checks Check Out.” Business Week. 10 May 2004. . Zellner Wendy.”Wal-Mart.com’s Second Grand Opening.” Business Week. 29 September, 2000.