Following a slowdown in e-commerce sales over the holidays, Walmart today is readying a new strategy to attract online shoppers with an increased focus on home goods. The retailer is now launching a redesigned Home shopping experience on the web which will better highlight home products, like furniture, accessories, and other decorative items.
The new site’s home page will feature curated collections across nine style categories, including modern, mid-century, traditional, glam, industrial, bohemian, farmhouse, transitional and Scandinavian. Unlike Walmart’s typical shopping experience, it will also use editorial-style imagery and will include design tips written by in-house staff.
The new initiative is part of Walmart’s reorganization of its Home group division, announced last year. This included two additional executive appointments, with Anthony Soohoo, previously the CEO at home furnishings brand Dot & Bo, becoming SVP and GM of the Home group across all U.S. e-commerce retail within Walmart.com, Hayneedle and Jet.com, plus Scott Doughman as Hayneedle’s president.
“As the head of Home for Walmart U.S. eCommerce, and admittedly design-obsessed, I’m personally excited about the changes we’re making to help our customers shop the high-quality, on-trend and, of course, affordable home assortment we offer on Walmart.com,” said Soohoo, in a statement about the launch.
According to the retailer, shopping for home goods online has to take a different approach. While categories like groceries and consumables are more transactional in nature, the home goods category needs to more “inspirational.” That is, online shoppers want a site that’s more about browsing and getting ideas, rather than just the traditional “add to cart” experience.
Walmart doesn’t break out what portion of its sales are home goods, or how much of its overall assortment fits in this category. But it did say that it’s nearly doubled its assortment over the past year, aided by introductions of new furniture and home décor lines, like its IKEA-esque Scandinavian kids’ furniture, for example.
The new Home shopping site will also help showcase Walmart’s own private label and Walmart-exclusive brands, like Mainstays, Better Homes and Gardens and Pioneer Woman. This is an area rival Amazon recently moved into as well, when it launched its first home furnishing lines in November. Target, too, is steadily expanding its home goods offerings, with brands like Threshold, Project 62, Hearth & Hand with Magnolia, and as of just a couple of days ago, a new, eclectic brand called Opalhouse.
Walmart, meanwhile, will focus heavily on competing on price, with low-cost products, like sofas that start at $159, twin mattresses starting at $59, and rugs starting at $17. That means it will also be challenging other furniture retailers that promote affordability, like IKEA and Wayfair, for instance.
The new site will go live on Walmart.com across web and mobile as a slow rollout over the next few weeks. It also offers a preview of Walmart’s larger e-commerce site design, scheduled for later this year.