Walmart announced its latest answer to Amazon on Tuesday — a convenience feature called “Easy Reorder” that registers in-store and online Walmart purchases and saves them to a shopper’s purchase history, according to a company blog post written by Jordan Sweetnam, vice president of customer experience and product at Walmart global e-commerce.
Past purchases are registered online via either a desktop or the Walmart mobile app. From there, the app or site builds a list of items purchased often, in order of frequency.
The feature has been popular among users and is now available for purchases at any of the company’s nearly 5,000 U.S. stores, as well as Walmart.com. “I’m not the only one who loves this feature,” Sweetnam said in the post. “Our customers love it as well, and we’re seeing it in our results — Easy Reorder contributed to the growth we saw in the first quarter.”
Walmart has moved the needle on e-commerce significantly since its purchase of Jet. Along with a series of e-commerce acquisitions that helped boost sales by 63% in its most recent quarter, the company is increasingly blurring the lines between the in-store and online experience through initiatives including “Next Gen” layouts, in-store pickup kiosks for online orders, discounts on those orders not available to in-store customers and scan and go checkouts.
Walmart’s newly assertive omnichannel push is based squarely on providing customers with “always low prices” and convenience to save people both time and money, executives have said. Walmart's Easy Reorder is reminiscent of convenience moves by other big players, like Amazon’s Dash buttons and Target’s Restock pilot.
“Walmart’s new 'Easy Reorder' feature shows how important it is for brands and retailers to continuously innovate so that consumers can save time and money on repeat purchases, helping to increase retention rates and generate customer loyalty,” Ofer Klein, CEO of IoT commerce solutions firm Kwik, told Retail Dive in an email. “In today’s hyper-competitive retail environment, it is critical for brands and retailers to reduce friction at every step of the consumer journey. The use of one push ordering is a smart, simple solution, as it allows consumers to easily and directly reorder their favorite products.”
That means Walmart will have even more customer data to help grow and shape its emerging e-commerce ecosystem. "A primary driver of change that enables retail digital ecosystems is the improvement and sophistication of data collection and analysis," according to a report from Planet Retail RNG’s, "Walmart Digital Ecosystem 2017," emailed to Retail Dive. "As the technology improves, leading players recognize the advantages of becoming the primary data collector of consumer data instead of allowing it to collect across partner sites and services. Beyond the flagship Walmart.com, the ecosystem includes other retail platforms and services that connect Walmart with more consumer data to understand what customers need to buy and make it easier for them to buy it from a Walmart site or store."
Traditionally, customers have often had to choose between saving money or time. Walmart aims to allow its customers to have their cake and eat it too. The question is what that might do to Walmart’s margins. Walmart’s core strategy has historically been dependent on its super-efficient distribution of consumer goods (based on a massive fleet of stores), its leverage with suppliers and the fact that its customers take care of getting their purchases from shelves to home. The more complex and costly distribution that comes from e-commerce could begin to break that down.