Walmart gives its website a makeover in latest e-commerce push

By Richa Naidu

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Walmart Inc, the world's largest brick-and-mortar retailer, said on Tuesday it has made extensive changes to its website, betting that a cleaner, more modern walmart.com will help it win market share from Amazon.com Inc.

Walmart, which announced in October that it was redesigning its website, has been investing heavily in its e-commerce business and using its more than 4,700 U.S. stores to make it easier to shop online.

The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company has been letting shoppers pick up and return online orders in stores, and said in March that it planned to expand its grocery home delivery services to reach more than 40 percent of U.S. households.

The changes, to take effect at the start of May, will include a wider range of colors, fonts and more informal photographs. The retailer declined to comment on the total cost of the redesign.

The last time Walmart updated its website was in 2014, but the changes were not as dramatic, Walmart spokeswoman Danit Marquardt said.

Walmart's new homepage will be personalized to customers' locations, allowing them to buy products that are trending in their towns and see which of these online services their local stores provide, Marc Lore, the head of Walmart's e-commerce business, said in an interview on Monday.

Lore also said the website would soon have different layouts depending on product categories, allowing customers to shop for groceries differently from how they buy clothes and accessories, or home improvement products.

Lore said these changes had been well-received by the website's brands, which will have more space and different ways to advertise. Retailers, including Amazon and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, often give brands space on their websites to increase e-commerce traffic and boost online assortments.

"We can see from the research that it's going to appeal to customers," Lore said.

Walmart said in February that online sales increased 23 percent in the most recent quarter, less than half the rate of growth in each of the previous three quarters. The company posted about $11.5 billion in U.S. e-commerce revenue for the full year. Total U.S. sales were $318.5 billion.

The slowing online sales growth raised concerns among analysts that the retailer might be unable to keep pace with Amazon. Company officials said at the time that Walmart was still on track to increase its e-commerce sales by 40 percent this year.

(Reporting by Richa Naidu; Editing by Matthew Lewis)

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