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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U.S. Manufacturing

A Fond Farewell to an American Craftsman

After nearly half a century of making pacifiers and sippy cups, Dick Gates is stepping away this year.

At NUK headquarters in Reedsburg, Wisconsin, Dick Gates has been an integral part of designing and manufacturing baby products since 1970, when he started as a stock handler, and in just a few years, became the youngest supervisor in the company’s history.

He loved being part of a process that guaranteed quality and safety for the mothers and children all over the country, and especially in his own back yard.

“I go to church every Sunday and see my product being used,” he said, proudly.

Understanding the value of what his company was making, Dick dedicated himself to learning the nuts and bolts of the process, going to engineering school and taking night classes until his qualifications allowed him to join the engineering and product development team. He went on to develop the mechanisms that are still being used at NUK right now. Producing thousands of baby products every day, many of which are shipped immediately to Walmart.

With NUK’s dedication to keeping local jobs, and Walmart’s commitment to U.S. manufacturing, Dick gained the peace of mind he had always craved. The assurance that he would always have a job. Knowing he could put down roots in this community, confident that he wouldn’t be pulling his kids out of school and moving to another town.

“Walmart’s not going any place,” he said, “and that gave me an incredible sense of security.”

That feeling of safety allowed Dick to think of NUK headquarters as his second home. And to think of his colleagues as family. 

He enjoys his nine-mile drive every morning, watching the sun come up over the tops of the trees. He’s the first one there every day, so he turns on the lights and starts the coffee pot.

“I’m at work, but I’m at home,” he said.

He says it’s a bittersweet feeling, retiring from the company after 45 wonderful years. But he knows that the products and processes he has developed, as well as the spirit he has invested in this company, will go on for a very long time.

“It’s not just for me.  Not just for my son or my daughter.  It’s for generations to come.”

Dick’s legacy will live on in another very special way. His daughter now works on the assembly line at NUK. The child whose first possession was a NUK baby bottle manufactured by her dad is now carrying on the work of the man who made that bottle with loving care.

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Innovation

How Japan’s Seiyu Stacks eCommerce and Grocery

Save money, live better is Walmart’s mission, regardless of our location around the world. But with stores and clubs in 28 countries, it’s our responsibility to be sure we’re solving for the specific needs and demands of customers in each individual market.

For example, with population density in major metropolitan areas driving up the demand for online grocery, we often leverage our physical stores as pickup and delivery centers. And, last week, we took it one step further in Tokyo, opening our first-ever hybrid Seiyu store. This format was specifically designed to satisfy the digital and physical shopping needs of our Japanese customers.

With a traditional grocery store on the first floor, and an online grocery warehouse on the second floor, this new grocery store is uniquely positioned to cater to the masses. By having dedicated inventories for e-commerce, we can meet more online orders even for a store with a small footprint. In addition, it maximizes inventory turnovers, as we not only pick from online inventories on the second floor, but also select some items – such as produce and meat – from the physical store.

In response to our Japanese customers’ growing need to save time, we’ve also begun a pickup service using lockers. And we’ve started an “unattended” delivery service, where we leave ordered items at doorsteps so customers don’t need to wait for delivery. These are just a few examples of how we’re committed to developing new and better ways to meet the changing needs of our customers, regardless of where they call home.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Once Bankrupt, Now Booming: A Small-Town Factory Returns

In 2009, I noticed an odd thing as I stopped to check out a closed-down factory in Wadley, Alabama. The building was clearly vacant, but there were 10-12 people outside mowing and trimming weeds. So I asked them, “Who’s paying you?” “Nobody,” one of them said. “We just love this factory.”

It was clear that this place was once a special part of this town. 

As a manufacturer of patio furniture, I saw this as an opportunity.  Why not use this facility, which had all the equipment — and potential workforce – needed to produce high-quality products? Because the factory was part of a bankruptcy filing, I went before a judge to see about buying it. When I told him my plan to turn the factory into a facility that once again produced American-made products, he slammed his gavel and said, “You got it.”  

Because Walmart’s commitment to U.S. manufacturing allowed for the flexibility of a multi-year deal for Walmart to purchase product from the Wadley facility, we’ve been able to put money into renovations. Currently, we’re spending millions on efficiency upgrades and new equipment.

The factory, which opened in 1963 and was previously owned by another company that produced wrought-iron patio furniture, was the heart of the Wadley community. When you consider that the town’s population is roughly 700, it makes sense that this facility employed a large percentage of its residents. Today, our new patio furniture factory has 200 employees, and I see that number growing by 50-100 in the coming years. That growth can only be a help to the local economy – it’s 200 people who need to eat breakfast and lunch at local restaurants and buy stuff from local merchants on their way home from work.

As part of our reopening of this facility, we’re also able to support educational initiatives in Wadley and throughout Randolph County. Our biggest workforce supplier is a technical school also located in Wadley. We supply the material, and the school trains the welders. We are able to hire skilled workers at various levels, not to mention support these vocation programs for the future. We also house a weekly food bank. We store and supply some of the food and other needs, including allowing space for the distribution of these goods to as many as 100 people per week.

I’m proud to be a part of making a big impact on this small town. 

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U.S. Manufacturing

Walmart’s Investment in U.S. Manufacturing, Explained

With nearly 260 million customers shopping at a Walmart location each week, it’s clear that the ability to get the right items at the right price is a benefit to many of us.

But providing affordable goods isn’t the only way we aim to make an impact. We’re also heavily invested in the communities we serve. One part of that is our commitment to source an additional $250 billion in products made, assembled or grown in the U.S.

Not only does manufacturing products domestically create jobs – in many cases, it’s more efficient. Manufacturing goods closest to the point of sale allows for quicker turnaround time from factory to shelf. It’s good for business, good for customers and good for our stores.

While products are a big part of this commitment, innovation is another key way we can make a difference. Along with the Walmart Foundation and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, we’re awarding grants for research on ways to make manufacturing easier, such as this project from Cornell University that is helping to turn recycled clothes into new ones.

Here’s a quick look at the key points of our pledge.

On June 28, Walmart will host its U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call for products that support American jobs. Learn more about these two events here.

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