Walmart will launch a sleek, new online home goods shopping page in the coming weeks. It’s the first step of a big e-commerce redesign it hopes will get its digital sales growth back to its former blistering pace.
The discount retailer’s upgraded home goods site is designed to let shoppers browse housewares and furniture based on their tastes, presenting such goods according to nine styles (including what it calls glam, bohemian and Scandinavian as well as traditional and modern) and in a manner that shows how different products will look together, rather than as a simple endless listing of products and prices as most products. The new presentation reflects how people actually shop for home goods, with the understanding a dull web site won’t cut it in the hyper-competitive home goods market.
“As a mass retailer, we know that customers shop differently across categories. Some categories are more transactional, like groceries and consumables, while others are more inspirational, like apparel and home,” Anthony Soohoo, group general manager for Walmart U.S. eCommerce’s home goods division.
The news of launch, in the works for some time, comes two days after Walmart announced a sharp slowdown in the pace of its online sales growth in the holiday quarter. In the fourth fiscal quarter, Walmart’s U.S. digital sales grew 23%, down from 50% of the preceding quarter, with some of the deceleration due to operational snafus. The company expects growth to go back up to 40% this year.
What’s more, Walmart also said it would shift more focus to its namesake website from Jet.com, a move it telegraphed last year when it announced Walmart.com would host a web site for HBC’s (HBC) Lord & Taylor department store chain. As it has sought to catch Amazon.com with stronger e-commerce firepower and more stylish products, Walmart has bought brands such as Bonobos and Modcloth, fueling speculation it will turn Walmart.com into an online shopping mall beyond being its namesake brand’s e-commerce vessel.
Though it is the largest U.S. retailer, Walmart is taking on strong incumbents in the online home goods and furniture business. Williams-Sonoma (ASM) gets more than half its sales online; Wayfair on Thursday reported its direct U.S. revenue rose by 43.0%.
And by raising the stylishness of much of its home offering, it is going more directly up against Target (TGT), which this week introduced its new Opalhouse line, joining a lineup that includes its classic Threshold, more modern Project 62 and farmhouse flavored Hearth & Hand with Magnolia brand. And lest we forget, Amazon.com (AMZN) is also deepening its housewares and furniture selection, while department stores like Kohl’s (KSS) and Macy’s (M) are ramping up their own offerings.
Still, Walmart is planting a flag in this side of its business. It said it has doubled the number of home goods it sells online in the last year.