September 07, 2012 at 13:13 PM EDT
Walmart Boosts Conversions with Social Inspired Search Tool
Image from: Walmart Storefront / The Inquistr Online retailers are constantly trying to better understand exactly how consumers are shopping on their websites. If ecommerce sites can better understand the digital path to purchase, they can optimize their site’s layout, make it easier for the consumer to find what they are shopping for, and ultimately [...]

walmart storefront

Image from: Walmart Storefront / The Inquistr

Online retailers are constantly trying to better understand exactly how consumers are shopping on their websites. If ecommerce sites can better understand the digital path to purchase, they can optimize their site’s layout, make it easier for the consumer to find what they are shopping for, and ultimately drive up conversion rates. One way a retailer can do this is by better understand exactly what shoppers are looking for when they use an onsite search tool.

Recently, Walmart announced the implementation of a new methodology to better understand a user’s search term.  Items that other consumers have searched for and clicked on, as well as items generating buzz on social media sites, are all considered before the results are returned. To measure the impact of this change, I looked at two particular metrics on Walmart.com: pages per visit and attention.

Pages per Visit vs. Attention at Walmart.com

Since February, pages/visit on Walmart.com has consistently decreased; shoppers are required to travel to fewer pages in order to find what they are looking for. Likewise, attention, which is determined from time spent on a site, has increased; shoppers are engaging in Walmart.com more. Together, this data means that Walmart.com is getting shoppers to their desired products faster and keeping them there longer.

One of Walmart’s goals is to compete with the ecommerce powerhouse, Amazon.com, which has had a strong hold on overall online sales, partly due to its efficient onsite search tool. While pages/visit and attention show that Walmart.com has successfully improved their onsite search, the long run goal is to drive up conversion rate.  Walmart.com’s July conversion rate of 2.3% was better than that of Sears.com and Target.com, which had conversion rates of 1.8% and 1.2%. Still, none of the major brick and mortar ecommerce sites are close to Amazon.com, which had a July conversion rate of 5.1%.

It seems the power of social media websites continues to grow, as more companies are utilizing the immense amount of user created data. Although it is still relatively young, it seems Walmart.com’s new onsite search tool has harnessed the power of this data, and in turn, is doing a better job at understanding exactly what consumers are looking for. If its success continues, it seems other retailers will have to take social media data into account if they want to stay at the forefront of the ecommerce market.

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