Innovation

Walmart.com is Getting a New Look

I’m very excited to share that over the coming months, we’re making some substantial updates to Walmart.com, overhauling familiar features and introducing new ones. I’d like to share some of the details of this new Walmart.com in this post.

We’ve revised the site from the ground up with a simple, bold, and modern design that sings on any form factor, be it a tablet, a laptop, or a big desktop display. We started our new design from the baseline of small tablets, optimizing it for that form factor, and then carefully considered how each area of the site could adapt itself to take advantage of larger screens with different input mechanisms (i.e., fingers versus mice) when available (I’ll talk more about our work on smartphones in a later post).

Speaking of adaptation, this updated Walmart.com now tailors itself much more to our individual customers, personalizing much more of the content than ever before based on many aspects of a customer’s history with us. We’ve also increased the quality and frequency of the personalized item recommendations we make throughout the site. These recommendations may be based on a customer’s past searches or purchases on the site, but we can also suggest items that other customers typically buy along with the item a customer is shopping. 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.

We’re also continuing to integrate our digital and physical experiences to help customers easily move across our site and our stores. One way we’re doing that is through the new “My Local Store” area of the site that enables our customers to explore the features of their nearby Walmart stores, including a listing of the latest Rollbacks, a selection of coupons and more. Coupled with an all-new Store Finder, using Walmart.com to plan store visits is better than ever before.

The changes I’ve described above (and many more) are already live with nearly half of our daily online shoppers and will be rolled out to all of our customers soon. I’d like to tell you about a few more updates that we’ll release shortly thereafter.

When our customers click on an item to see more details, they’ll soon experience our updated item page, which features 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.

Walmart.com is known for its fantastic “bundle” values, which give customers the opportunity to buy related products together for savings, and in some cases, to configure their own combinations of products. Coupled with this new item page is a greatly improved bundles experience, making them easier to discover and configure.

We’re also going to release a significant revision to our checkout process, which will become a simple, easy-to-use three-step flow that fits on a single page from start to finish.

The biggest change of all is one that our customers can’t see: an all-new e-commerce platform under the covers that we’ve been building from the ground up over 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.

While we’re all thrilled for our customers to experience this new Walmart.com, updating the experience that millions of customers depend on isn’t something we take lightly. So we’re therefore being very deliberate about how we roll out these changes, taking it a step at a time and working closely with customers to get their input and making improvements as we go.

There are many more features and dimensions to this new rollout that I didn’t go into in this post, and I look forward to providing more updates as we go forward. Most of all, I’m excited about how all of us here at Walmart will continue to make shopping faster, easier and more fun for our customers.

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Business

#PattiPie, New Cobblers and the Evolution of Our Bakeries

When Patti LaBelle’s Sweet Potato Pie hit Walmart stores last fall, the demand for #PattiPie became so high we could barely keep enough of them on the shelves.

As a merchant for our fresh bakery, this was exciting news. It proved that the work by Kinna Thomas, our senior buyer of cakes and pies, and our entire team to provide premium goods baked with high-quality ingredients was not going unnoticed.

It also proved that taking the extra time and effort to think outside of the box whenever we’re developing bakery goods makes a real difference to our customers. Taking it to the next level for this holiday season, Kinna was reviewing Ms. LaBelle’s cookbooks and stumbled across one of her famous cobbler recipes. We knew how important it was to hit the mark perfectly.

After testing and trying out the product, I’m excited to announce that together, we’ve cooked up three premium cobblers in peach, apple and mixed berry flavors for #PattiPie fans to enjoy, starting Sept. 2. Not only are they packed full with quality fruit, they’re baked with two crusts – one on top and one on bottom – to ensure that sugary crisp bite.

Knowing that most cobblers on the market today are frozen, we worked to find the right supplier to create a unique fresh version. Turns out we had the right company with us all along: Twin Star Bakery out of Houston, who currently makes a number of decadent items for Walmart, including oversized sandwich cookies and specialty dessert cakes. As a matter of fact, the cobbler expansion will bring over a hundred new jobs to their factory.

In addition to the cobblers, we’re also bringing Ms. LaBelle’s apple pecan cake and sweet potato pound cake to select stores. The sweet potato pound cake was a joint venture to with a small Philadelphia business, Brown Betty Dessert Boutique. We will offer this delicious Southern-style treat in select stores in the Northeast.

The success of Patti’s sweet potato pie – and the resulting expansion of her personal recipe-based product line – is just one example of how we are working to transform our fresh bakery offerings through innovation. We are so proud to offer amazing new items across our entire bakery. Just last year, we added about 60 new items and we continue to innovate. Today, more than half of our items are prepared in our stores, and we’ve enriched our teams across the country with bakery technicians who’ve been training and helping our store associates to ensure everything comes out exactly right. On top of that, we’re simplifying our processes so that we can bake many different items at one temperature, allowing us to produce more fresh-baked goods for our customers every day.

It’s a sweet time to work in Walmart’s fresh bakery, and we’re excited to see our customers’ reactions as we work to deliver every ingredient just right.

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Innovation

A Fruitful Idea That’s Working for Online Grocery Customers

As a personal shopper with Walmart’s online grocery and home delivery business, everything I do is aimed at making sure the quality of the products – particularly fresh produce – is exceptional when it arrives on a customer’s doorstep.

So I took it personally earlier this year when a few photos circulated back to me of fruit we selected that looked like it didn’t meet the high standards I’ve set for myself.

I decided to investigate and discovered the grooves at the bottom of the plastic totes we used to gather and move produce were at least partially to blame. Certain types of produce were susceptible to bruising as the totes made their way from the sales floor, to the holding area, onto delivery trucks and eventually to a customer’s front door.

So, when my eyes came across the thin layers of paper-lined foam that suppliers used to ship boxes of apples to our stores, I had an idea. I decided to start lining the bottoms of our totes with them as I selected items like apples, pears and bananas for customers. And it seemed to do the trick – no more mystery photos.

Someone saw what I was doing and brought the idea to our corporate office. The next thing I knew, I was on a conference call led by Greg Foran, the president and CEO of Walmart U.S., explaining my idea. Then I got the chance to travel to Walmart’s shareholders meeting in June to personally share my story with an even larger audience. Now, I’m told those fresh pack pads are becoming part of our standard operating procedure across the U.S.

Sam Walton used to say you can find the best ideas by listening to your associates. I’m glad that philosophy is still alive today. My idea was a small one, but someone listened. And now it's making a difference on an even bigger level.

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Opportunity

One Walmart Associate’s Path to the Pentagon

Since 1997, Luke McCollum has lived somewhat of a double life, holding careers at both Walmart and the Navy Reserve.

While a retail role and a government job may seem like an unlikely pairing, he says the blending of both worlds is what has prepared him well for an exciting next step: Navy Vice Admiral, where he’ll serve as the Commander of America’s Navy Reserve Force. This is no small promotion – President Barack Obama had to appoint him to the role.

While this means Luke will be leaving Walmart’s home office in Bentonville, Arkansas, to work solely at the Pentagon, he says Walmart is a big reason why he’s able to take this new step. Why?

“Working here has made me a better Navy Reserve officer, and vice versa,” he said.

As vice president of Walmart’s logistics services, one of Luke’s duties is to oversee new distribution centers coming to life across the U.S. – from picking the location, to seeing it all in action with excited associates. He most recently experienced this with a new fulfillment center in Chino, California, and a new distribution center in Mankato, Minnesota. To Luke, it was exhilarating to see everything unfold, knowing that this would help serve customers better and provide new opportunities for our associates.

While his work and processes at Walmart are different than those at the Navy, he’s found common ground at both organizations in dealing with the large, complex and unpredictable. “In the Navy, we can never get comfortable because it’s always changing,” he said. “It forces us to think differently and strategically. We have to do a lot of that at Walmart, too.”

What Luke enjoys about both of his teams is their desire to learn new things. “I would be sitting in senior meetings in the Navy, and they would ask me how Walmart would solve a problem. The same happened in my Walmart meetings,” he said. “They have the appetite to change and grow. Both have had to evolve over the years. At Walmart, we try to understand how our customers have changed and how we can operate better to serve them. The Navy is no different. They serve a customer, too – the American people and the men and women on active duty.”

Having a really strong support system at home and at work is what has helped Luke hold down two careers. He gives a lot of credit to his family. When most people are heading home for the weekend, Luke has to get on a plane to the Middle East or the Pacific for another full work week. With a 24-hour flight back home and jumping right back into Monday, he doesn’t have much downtime. “You have to know what’s important because you can’t do everything,” he said.

Why do two jobs? For Luke, it’s all about the people. He thrives on seeing people do things they didn’t know they could do. “One of the definitions of leadership is to define reality, provide encouragement on the way and say thank you in between,” he said. “I’ve gotten to do that in both organizations.”

Luke is honored, humbled yet excited to take on this new job.

“I’ll miss my Walmart team, but my experiences here have prepared me well to take this next step,” he said.

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Community

When Disaster Strikes, Associates Provide Real-Time Relief

When forecasting warned that record rainfall could be coming to Louisiana, a team at Walmart’s home office did what they always do when severe weather is imminent: Pull together the right people to prepare for help.

Because there are about 30 Walmart stores and Sam’s Club locations in the Baton Rouge area where the flooding eventually hit, the company’s Emergency Operations Center had a responsibility to local associates and communities. Logistics, operations, and merchandising teams assembled quickly, first mapping alternate routes for trucks delivering to stores in and around Louisiana and ramping up shipments of diapers, bottled water and other essentials.

While some stores and clubs closest to Baton Rouge did have to close their doors because of flood damage, most have reopened now. Ensuring that corporate functions and teams on the ground can work together to make that happen is at the heart of the EOC’s role.

Formed in the early 2000s following 9/11, Walmart’s EOC was established to support associates and local communities in times of need. Whether it’s securing generators to restore power to facilities or acting as a call center so that associates and community members can locate and assist one another, the EOC is the hub that helps Walmart locations provide a sense of normalcy when disaster strikes.

With the recent Louisiana flooding displacing thousands of people from their homes, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation have committed $1.5 million to organizations making a difference on the ground. Learn more about those efforts here.

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