- To appeal to a broader customer base, Walmart has expanded a Spanish search capability to its website, according to a Wednesday announcement.
- The retailer plans to further optimize its Spanish experience sometime this year. The company is working toward predictive search and continual personalization and contextualization, per the announcement.
- The retailer first introduced a search translation feature to its website last year, allowing shoppers to search for their desired items in Spanish. The company has added Spanish terms for more than 600,000 of its most frequently purchased items.
Walmart’s decision stems from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and overall demographic trends. In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart saw its Spanish queries spike more than five times compared to pre-pandemic levels as shoppers bought more online. The company also cited projections estimating that the Hispanic and Latino communities would comprise more than one fourth of the U.S. population by 2060.
However, the retailer did not mention adding additional languages for other communities prevalent in the U.S. The nation's Asian population is projected to exceed 46 million by 2060, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and the census has not historically distinguished between white and Middle Eastern populations. The retailer did not immediately respond to a request for comment regarding whether it plans to add additional languages to its online search function.
“We serve all of America, so it’s only natural we should prioritize improving Spanish search functionality,” Rini Joshi, senior manager of product, and Amit Vasant Bande, senior director of product at Walmart, wrote in the announcement.
In addition to improving accessibility on its digital channels, the retailer has also been focused on streamlining its mobile experience. In May 2020, Walmart combined its grocery app with the Walmart app, allowing shoppers to use one app for curbside pick up or delivery purchases. The move came after Walmart received complaints from customers about having to navigate between both apps.
Though e-commerce is expected to reach record highs this year, Walmart, like other retailers, has seen its e-commerce gains weighed down by shifting consumer behavior. The retailer also saw its gross profit rate decline slightly in Q1, attributed to rising fuel, supply chain and fulfillment expenses. An FTI Consulting report released earlier this month predicted that online retail sales will surpass $1 trillion this year, but the report also noted that shoppers are worried about rising prices and a potential recession, which could dent growth.
Walmart has also integrated more tech into its physical stores. In January, the retailer debuted an interactive store concept in Springdale, Arkansas, which contains dynamic displays, QR codes and digital screens. The company previously tested a store redesign focused on navigation and implemented those redesigns across nearly 1,000 stores.