Saturday, November 18, 2006

Pre-Holiday Web Redesign Boosts Walmart.com Sales


Walmart.com CEO Carter Cast says traffic and sales on the site increased 10-percent since the relaunch on Oct. 24. The world's largest retailer expects 279 million visits online from Nov. 1 through the end of the year, and estimates a 40 percent jump to 700 million for 2006, compared with 2005.

“We’re seeing a better conversion rates from visits to purchases,” Cast says, attributing the increase in traffic and sales to the newly redesigned Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Web site, as well as fast selling electronic gadgets, such as Apple Computer Inc.'s iPod and Microsoft Corp.’s Zune.

Cast believes the hot selling holiday items for the year that will contribute to the increase are Blu-ray HD players, video game consoles like Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Nintendo’s Wii, global positioning systems (GPS), Philips’ flat-screen TVs, Fisher-Price’s Elmo, and Lego’s Mindstorms NXT.

Interactive links and larger images now give consumers a method to visualize the layout for an entire room of electronic equipment, such as TVs and speakers, for example.

The site also has buying guides linking to CNET product reviews that can help consumers choose the perfect electronic gadgets, from Apple’s iPod to Microsoft’s Zune.

With more than $30 billion in online spending expected this holiday season, Walmart.com and other retailers are trying to get shoppers to turn on their computers, rather than hit the malls ahead of Cyber Monday, the day after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Cyber Monday was the second biggest shopping day in 2005, according to the Shop.org and Shopzilla eHoliday Mood Study. Findings revealed that 63.4 percent of retailers who participated in the study experienced “substantial growth” on Cyber Monday, and 32.6 percent indicated sales rose more than 30 percent from the previous year.

Retailers say Dec. 12, 2005, was the busiest online shopping day for the year. Many view Cyber Monday as the online equivalent to “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving, which officially kicks off the holiday shopping season.

Walmart.com may have added bells and whistles to revamp the site, but consumers won't have an option this year to buy and download digital movies. Cast says the retailer is evaluating the service.

“There are no imminent plans to offer the service,” Cast says. “As you know, movie files are large, and different portable MP3 devices like the iPod and the Zune, work well with music, but I think there will have to be some technological advancements in compression technology, as well as a device that gets it to the TV before movies on portable devices really catch on.”

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