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@WalmartLabs: e-Commerce & Mobile Technology Experiments
Walmart has always been steadily expanding its retail kingdom to the popular realm of Internet and mobile commerce. @WalmartLabs, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.,…
Walmart has always been steadily expanding its retail kingdom to the popular realm of Internet and mobile commerce. @WalmartLabs, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., located near Silicon Valley, recently completed a strategic upgrade for the purpose of raking in more sales: buying Kosmix.
Kosmix + Walmart = @WalmartLabs
Originally, Kosmix was a company primarily concerned with collecting massive amounts of information from the Internet into more digestible categories. Back in April of 2011, Walmart approached the company to help make searching for products on its website easier. But the relationship expanded and Walmart bought Kosmix for about $300 million in May. Charming things have happened since then - one of the first creations to come of this combo was Shopycat, a shopping app that uses Facebook data to recommend gifts. Social Sense Project, smilarly, uses data from Twitter updates to brainstorm and predict increasingly popular products that can better inform Walmart buyers of which items are noteworthy. One great example of this at work is Walmart's decision to stock up on cake pops, a cross between a cake and a lollipop, after discovering its popularity on Twitter.
Mobile technology is an intrinsic part of the e-commerce agenda, and it is essential for @WalmartLabs to break into e-commerce on-the-go for the purpose of reaching those customers who may not have broadband connection - or a computer, for that matter - but manage to have a smartphone or iPad. The Walmart app for iPhone is perhaps one of the coolest innovations it has going for them; one simply pronounces items needed into the phone and they appear with prices of various brands and where they are located in the store. Clicking on products through the app automatically allows for coupons to show up that can be used at checkout.
Revenue of traditional retail stores is growing at about half the rate of e-commerce. In order to get a piece of the e-commerce pie, a market with revenue that is growing at 10- to 15-percent a year in the US, @WalmartLabs is entering the social media arena, particularly by means of social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, among others. Through tweets and Facebook updates, marketers have the potential ability to harvest details of consumers' interests. Knowing what people like and want can help retailers stock more items that will sell better. According to Internet Retailer, "More than half of consumers grant online retailers permission to use their Facebook data.” The convenience of this method lies in the fact that the information is very public and thus more easily available for analysis. @WalmartLabs puts the whole process into perspective online: “‘I love salt!’, a user enthusiastically tweeted. Within a few seconds, the tiny tweet had arrived at WalmartLabs, where it was analyzed in a lightening fast fashion. A few minutes later, a message arrived in a close friend’s mailbox ‘Good morning, Juliana. You asked us to remind you. Hanna’s birthday is coming up. She’s just tweeted positively about SALT, a new Angelina movie. Would you like to buy something related for her? We have a few suggestions.’”
Research shows that 71-percent of iPhone users make purchases via their phone and 71-percent of iPhone users who make purchases using their phone use both a mobile browser and apps to make purchases. Consumers are bonding tightly with their mobile devices and @Walmartlabs is busy catching up with this trend. But despite the promising engagement a good mobile campaign can provide, advertisers are still investing more money into television and Internet ads – in 2010, mobile only accounted for 2.1-percent of Internet advertising, but according to Berg Insight, “Mobile will account for 15.2-percent of global online ad spending in 2016." It will truly be something to marvel at if mobile technology ends up coming very close to television commercial ads in its effectiveness as a means of reaching consumers. @WalmartLabs seems to be making some promising strides in the mobile direction.