Those who frequent the website of retail giant Walmart might have noticed some changes in the last few months. It seems Walmart has gone on the offensive in an effort to keep up with ecommerce giant Amazon, and it’s started with an overhaul of its ecommerce platform.
With the game of capturing online customers becoming more challenging than ever, it oftentimes comes down to two simple factors for online shoppers: ease of use and the total overall experience. Online consumers want that warm and fuzzy feeling when shopping online. They want to be catered to and feel special. Smart online retailers are taking advantage of ecommerce solutions like personalization, loyalty programs and discounts, omni-channel marketing and low-cost or free shipping, which help them create the perfect online shopping experience.
Amazon has been the clear leader of online retailers for some time and is certainly an example of “doing it right, ” which is reflected in the fact that it is the 5th ranked website in the United States and 8th globally. Conversely, Walmart has been the king of brick-and-mortar retail, ranking No. 1 on the 2013 National Retail Federation listing of top 100 retailers. But it has trailed far behind Amazon with regard to online sales, coming in at only $10 billion in 2013, as compared to Amazon’s $67.9 billion.
So, let’s see how Walmart’s new site improvements compare to Amazon in terms of ease of use and making us feel special, shall we? I’m going to go on a hunt for the perfect Halloween costume. Let’s see what happens.
When logging in as a returning customer to each site, I’m welcomed with a “Hello” and my name. On the Amazon site, the home page is customized to show my “recently viewed” items as well as items to consider based on what other customers bought. The Walmart home page is a generic, non-targeted home page.
When searching for my perfect Halloween costume, both sites give a list of suggested search terms as I’m typing. The Amazon site breaks it down more specifically, though — offering me Halloween Costumes for Women, Halloween Costumes for Girls, etc. They also allow me to search by department, which the Walmart site does not do.
Taking search a step further and looking at the refining options, Walmart’s site allows me to refine by gender, price, theme, size, age, character, customer rating, retailer, special offers, color, category and brand. Amazon allows me to refine by Prime eligible, brand, special size, add-on item, themes, average customer review, international shipping eligibility, price, discount and seller. Ultimately, I was able to find a more refined list of the items I wanted quicker on the Amazon site.
Each site had clear indicators to find the shopping cart. On the Amazon site, I could see what was in the shopping cart by hovering my mouse over the icon. Unfortunately, on the Walmart site I have to actually open the cart to view the items. Amazon has the beauty of 1-click ordering, which makes the checkout process quick and simple. Should you not choose the 1-click, the Amazon site very clearly displays delivery dates and shipping costs based on the delivery options. It also allows for payment by all major credit cards, Amazon store or gift cards, and direct from a checking account. The Walmart site also clearly displays the shipping arrival dates and costs based on the shipping option you choose. It also allows for the option to “pick up in store.” Walmart accepts credit/debit cards, Walmart gift cards, PayPal and a “cash” option if you are picking up in the store.
Overall Ease and Experience
From the point of ease, both sites are very easy to navigate and find the items you are looking for, although Amazon does a slightly better job of refining your search. From an overall experience, personally I felt much more “at home” on the Amazon site and found myself clicking on additional items based on my previous searches and other “items I might like.” The Walmart site didn’t have that same feeling, and I felt like I was just there to get what I needed and get out.
So who wins this battle? Here’s how these two ecommerce giants ranked:
While Walmart didn’t win this battle, it has clearly defined one simple fact: that taking the right steps to improve your ecommerce site will definitely help you better the customer online experience and should help you increase sales. It will be interesting to see how Walmart’s sales increase when next year’s earnings reports come out and if it is able to close the gap with Amazon.