Walmart (WMT) may be a mass merchandise store but it doesn’t want its website looking like one.
The company on Tuesday unveiled a redesign of Walmart.com (see below for the new look and bottom for current site) coming in early May that features more sophisticated fonts and photography and more information and suggestions specifically targeting any single visitor to the site. At the same time, the site de-emphasizes the Walmart brand, keeping its spark logo but eschewing its name. The overhaul comes as Walmart looks to re-accelerate its online growth and win shoppers, including more affluent ones, away from Amazon.com (AMZN).
A redesign was announced in October by Walmart U.S. e-commerce CEO Marc Lore and consumers got an initial glimpse of what Walmart is going for in February when the company launched a sleek, new online home goods shopping page that among other features, lets shoppers browse housewares and furniture based on their tastes, and has a generally far more upscale feel to it.
Online shopping that is more tailored to an individual shopper’s preferences rather than being a massive online bazaar is the top goal for major retailers as shoppers prize convenience and speed of use more than ever. On the new Walmart.com, customers will be able to quickly get an update on any order status on the home page, place re-orders for things like household staples, and see a few items that are trending in the shopper’s market, among the new features.
There will be fewer tabs and menu selections that can overwhelm shoppers and make its assortment look bland. In its place are pictures that depict a tableau of daily life consumers can relate to, with products in context. Shoppers don’t like clutter in stores, so why would they accept it online, the thinking goes.
Walmart spooked investors in February when it announced U.S. online sales had risen 23% in the holiday season quarter, a marked slowdown from previous periods, and sought to reassure them by saying it expected digital sales in the United States to grow 40% this year.
In the 20 months since Walmart bought Jet.com, acquiring Lore himself as e-commerce boss in the process, the retailer has bought a number of sites such as Modcloth, Moosejaw, and Bonobos, looking to raise its fashion credentials online. It recently also announced a slew of new Walmart-owned clothing brands that are far more stylish than its typical offerings and continues to add to its online assortment, which is now 75 million different items. (Much of that thanks to the expansion of its online marketplace.)
In addition, later this year, Walmart will unveil an online store for HBC’s (HBC) Lord & Taylor, a department store with a relatively small e-commerce business. It will be the first move in what many observers believe is Walmart’s efforts to turn part of its website into an online mall as it looks to reach new shoppers beyond current Walmart customers, with fashion to start and other categories to follow.
A cleaner, more appealing site is key to achieving that, all the more since Walmart is gunning for more young adult shoppers. “The changes we have made to the site have gotten the brands excited to tell their stores, brands that maybe haven’t wanted to be on walmart.com before,” Lore told Fortune in an interview.
While Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce generated nearly $14 billion last year and averaged 127 million monthly visitors last year, according to Statista, it remains well behind Amazon on both counts. So it has been pushing for greater integration of its online business and mobile apps with its 4,700 stores, pushing services like curbside pickup for grocery, in-store pickup, an express lane for drug prescriptions in-store and increasingly, grocery delivery. But the site itself has to be more appealing and more functional to complement that.
Thanks to the new design, Lore said, “We expect customers will want to interact with the site more than they want to today.”