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Walmart introduces new apps to improve shopping experience

Walmart has two new mobile applications designed to help shoppers make purchasing decisions and lay the groundwork for a more personal relationship with the retailer. 

A brand-new Walmart iPad was launched last week while the retailer’s revamped iPhone app will be rolling out very soon. They are the first mobile products to be rolled out from the recently formed @WalmartLabs group, which is focused on creating mobile and social solutions that support a multichannel retail strategy.

“We want to make it very simple to engage with the Walmart brand and mobile creates a great bridge to move across various channels based on what is most convenient to customers at that time,” said Paul Cousineau, vice president of mobile products at, Brisbane, CA.

“We think that every one of our shoppers can use mobile to improve their shopping experience,” he said

“We know that our customers are very avid consumers of our mobile capabilities. We’ve had strong adoption inside our customer base across all the platforms.”

Touch-optimized shopping
One of Walmart’s focuses in mobile is to create self-service tools that give shoppers access to the information they are looking for when making their purchasing decisions. Easy access to such information is especially important for large stores such as Walmart, where shoppers have a lot of choice.

“There is a lot of choice and these devices can help shoppers navigate those options,” Mr. Cousineau said.

Walmart also uses mobile to help it build more personal relationships with customers, whether this is via targeted offers or letting shoppers save their favorite items to make it easier to build a shopping list.

“The mobile device provides a really great platform for extending that personal relationship,” Mr. Cousineau said.

“We provide targeted recommendations at the desktop and there is no reason why in-store we can’t provide the same level of targeting,” he said.

The new iPad app was launched last week and enables users to browse, search and purchase online. Users can also see product availability and detailed information for a specific store.

One key feature is touch-optimized shopping, which means every product is tappable so users can interact the items they are interested in.

Each item also features a location tab so users can see where it is available nearby.

“We sell iPads and see the momentum that the platform has,” Mr. Cousineau said.

“We thought there was an opportunity to build an app that is a compelling alternative to the Web site,” he said. “The app was made to be used sitting on the couch.”

Self-service shopping tools
Because iPhone owners tend to have the device with them at all times, Walmart focused on developing several convenient self-service tools for the new iPhone app. This includes features that make it easy to create a shopping list.

Key new features include the ability to add items to a shopping list by speaking, calculate total price in real-time as new items are added to list, view manufacturer coupons and access product details. Users can also email shopping lists, find what is available locally and scan QR codes.

Another feature that is currently only available in a few stores across the country displays in-store aisle location of products.

“The app combines the power of online digital information with providing utility on a regular, repeated basis to create high-engagement,” Mr. Cousineau said.

Walmart wants to create seamless multichannel experiences with mobile as just one important element of the way shoppers interact with the brand.

While customers are researching via mobile, most Walmart customers still go into a store to complete their purchase, per Mr.

“We are seeing a lot of customers do online shopping through the apps,” Mr. Cousineau said. “They are also performing some of the research and decision-making use mobile tools.

“Mobile is helping provide better information about products and where products are available,” he said.

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York