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Walmart to roll out redesigned website next month

  • A new Walmart.com will roll out in May.
  • The upgraded website will be personalized based on a shopper's local Walmart store.
  • A "fashion destination" that includes Lord & Taylor will be built into the new site in the coming weeks.

Walmart is close to unveiling an entirely redesigned website as it battles Amazon.com for shoppers' dollars online.

The company said Tuesday that a new Walmart.com will roll out to customers as soon as next month. It's been years since the company made such large-scale changes to its website.

The new design will be much more personalized, starting on the homepage. Shoppers will soon see top-selling items on Walmart.com based on their locations. They will also see a profile of their local store, telling them if that store has online grocery or easy reorder, for example.

"This is another example of us leveraging our unique assets," Marc Lore, president and CEO of Walmart's U.S. e-commerce business, told CNBC. The company operates more than 4,700 stores today, and certain items are more popular in certain cities than others, thereby justifying a more localized experience on the web, he said.

With Amazon taking an increasing share of e-commerce growth, it's incumbent on other retailers to compete online and reinvent antiquated platforms. Shoppers are looking for a seamless experience with easy navigation, customized touches and minimal ads in the way of browsing. Few retailers have been able to achieve this entirely — even Amazon.com is described as cluttered and sometimes chaotic.

Walmart's redesign builds on its new landing page for home shopping debuted earlier this year. The retailer also is expected to create a "fashion destination" online, starting with its partnership with Hudson's Bay's Lord & Taylor. That's set to launch "over the coming weeks," Walmart said. And according to Lore, shoppers should expect similar tie-ups with other apparel brands.

"The focus has been on home and fashion because that's the opportunity to make the most impact," Lore said. Those categories have "always been more transaction oriented," he said, while Walmart wants the shopping experience to include more "browse and discovery."

The new Walmart.com will also have "specialty shopping experiences." The goal is to make shoppers feel as if they are browsing a niche shop when they look through different categories on the new website.

Target has already had some success in taking this approach with its website. In launching new apparel and furniture brands like A New Day and Opalhouse, for example, Target has designed landing pages on its website to create shopping destinations with a boutique feel. Macy's is also in the midst of an overhaul of its website.

Lore, who founded Jet.com, said Walmart customers have called the retailer's current website "overwhelming" at times, with too much text and too many links on any given page. The redesigned version is much less of that, with modern fonts and clearer imagery. Walmart has opted for a palette of softer colors, straying from the iconic neon blue in its logo.

In fact, the Walmart logo is hardly noticeable on the new website, aside from on a toggle bar in the top corner. Shoppers might not realize, at first glance, they're scrolling through Walmart.com.

Even the ad placements on Walmart's new website will be more subtle and blend into the overall aesthetic. "With these changes, brands will have opportunities to better tell their stories on Walmart.com," Lore said.