Wal-Mart ups the ante against Amazon

In its latest bid to compete with online king Amazon.com, Wal-Mart is rebuilding its website to make shoppers' experience simpler, faster and more personalized.

The first wave of changes is happening this month but others will be rolled out over the next few months. The changes, which are being spearheaded by the retailer's tech lab called (at)WalmartLabs, are the biggest since Walmart.com has been using a global software system that will make it more nimble.

Here are some of what shoppers will see:

A more personalized experience: The new technology will be able to infer what the customers may be looking for based on what they've browsed and purchased. Shoppers will see different home pages based on such factors as location, local weather, and previous items they've searched for, clicked on or bought. Walmart.com will also recommend products that shoppers may want based on what other customers are buying online and in stores.

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Improved search tool: Wal-Mart is further refining its search engine so shoppers will be able to find products more easily. So if customers search for baseball jerseys, the page that they land on might show the Rangers for customers in Dallas.

Faster checkout: Wal-Mart will be testing a faster online checkout process in the next few months. That means that customers will only have to view one page instead of six before clicking on the "buy" button.

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Flexible screen: Content, images and information are now adjusted to the size of the user's screen, whether it's for a desktop monitor, laptop, tablet or smartphone. So online shoppers will see more columns of products on bigger screen.

Revamped store finder: Online shoppers will more easily be able to access the weekly ad and find store locations. Wal-Mart found that customers shop multiple stores nearby. So that's why online shoppers will see information about multiple stores in their area on the store tab.

—By The Associated Press

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