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Walmart rolls out fresh look for website, app

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Walmart has redesigned its website and app to try to encourage shoppers to browse and buy more.

Walmart

Walmart‘s digital store has a new look.

Starting this week, all customers who browse the company’s website and app will see bigger and glossier photos, videos and social media-inspired content that Walmart hopes will nudge more purchases.

Tom Ward, Walmart’s chief e-commerce officer, said the goal is to make shopping online easier and more engaging.

“When you walk into a store, you get inspired and excited by what you see,” he said. “And so we thought, ‘How do you drive that same inspiration and excitement in our closest store — in our app?'”

The big-box retailer’s online makeover comes as consumers become more reluctant to buy discretionary merchandise, such as clothing and consumer electronics, while paying higher prices for necessities like food and housing. Sales of discretionary general merchandise in the U.S. have fallen 4% in dollars and 5% in units year over year as of February, according to Circana, the merged market research firms formerly known as The NPD Group and IRI.

Walmart has felt that, too. Its sales have increasingly come from groceries, rather than general merchandise, in recent quarters. Walmart CFO John David Rainey told CNBC in February that consumers’ more budget-conscious mentality factored into the company’s outlook for this year.

Walmart expects weaker sales in the months ahead. It anticipates same-store sales for Walmart U.S. will increase between 2% and 2.5% excluding fuel, in the fiscal year ahead. The company projects that adjusted earnings per share for the fiscal year will range from $5.90 to $6.05, excluding fuel.

That would represent a drop from the past fiscal year, when same-store sales grew 6.6% for Walmart U.S. and adjusted earnings per share were $6.29, excluding fuel.

Ward acknowledged that “there’s lots of wants and needs conversations going around right now.” He said along with offering low prices, Walmart wants to catch customers’ attention by putting fresh, trendy and seasonal items in front of them, such as spring dresses, patio furniture and toys for Easter baskets.

He said the website and app’s new look could also lift sales for third-party sellers that have joined or could join Walmart’s marketplace. Along with selling its own merchandise, Walmart has riffed off the playbook of Amazon by using a third-party marketplace to expand its assortment of items online and to make money by selling fulfillment services.

E-commerce has become a more significant part of Walmart’s business, especially after a Covid pandemic-fueled push. Online sales accounted for about $53.4 billion — or nearly 13% — of Walmart U.S.’ total net sales in the past fiscal year, which ended in late January, according to company filings. That’s a jump from $15.7 billion or roughly 5% of Walmart U.S.’ total net sales in 2019.

Online sales for Walmart U.S. rose by 17% year over year in the most recent holiday quarter and 12% year over year for the past full fiscal year.

The retailer is expected to share its latest forecast and strategy at an investor day this week in Tampa, Florida.

Inside Walmart's master plan to catch Amazon, using stores to entice sellers and speed up delivery

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