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Wal-Mart shares rocket higher as retailer plans website redesign with a focus on home, fashion

  • Wal-Mart plans to double its online grocery pickup locations across the U.S. by the end of next year.
  • The Arkansas-based retailer also has plans to bring in roughly 2,000 "category specialists" to monitor the company's website.
  • The moves pit Wal-Mart even more directly against e-commerce giant Amazon in a race to win shoppers' dollars.
A personal shopper for the Walmart pickup program selects fresh produce that will be included in a customer's order.
Sarah Halzack | The Washington Post | Getty Images
A personal shopper for the Walmart pickup program selects fresh produce that will be included in a customer's order.

Wal-Mart is planning a website redesign to be revealed in the first quarter of next year, Marc Lore, president of Wal-Mart's U.S. e-commerce business, said Tuesday.

The big-box retailer plans to invest heavily in e-commerce and online grocery in the coming months, with plans to double its online grocery pickup locations across the U.S. by the end of next year. Meantime, Wal-Mart's physical store growth is slowing significantly.

The shifts pit Wal-Mart even more directly against e-commerce giant Amazon in a race to win shoppers' dollars. As Amazon grows in the brick-and-mortar world with Whole Foods, Wal-Mart is doubling down on digital.

At its annual investor day in Bentonville, Arkansas, Lore said Tuesday that Walmart.com will soon feature Jet.com's "smart-cart" system. Wal-Mart acquired e-retailer Jet last year for more than $3 billion — a deal that's since helped boost Wal-Mart's online sales by more than 60 percent.

Jet's "smart-cart" feature grants shoppers cheaper prices if they pack more items together in one box, use a debit card when paying for purchases, or opt out of returns. For Wal-Mart, Jet.com has been a place to test offerings on a smaller scale before migrating successful programs to Walmart.com.

Wal-Mart is also planning to "fix" its digital merchandising, Lore said, focusing on Walmart.com's top million SKUs.

The retailer has plans to bring in about 2,000 "category specialists" to monitor the company's website and rewrite item descriptions, among other tasks. Lore said Wal-Mart has already hired 250 specialists and is now bringing in about 50 each month.

Other digital initiatives include changing the coloring on the outside of Wal-Mart's cardboard packaging, bringing in more "premium" brands to Walmart.com, and beefing up Walmart.com's home and fashion verticals, Lore explained.

"Expect to see those experiences get elevated," he said about the home and fashion departments.

Shares of Wal-Mart climbed more than 4.5 percent Tuesday on the news, putting the stock on pace for its best day since May 2016, when shares jumped nearly 10 percent.

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