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Is Walmart Too Late With Its New Online Focus or Right on Time?

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Walmart Stores (WMT - Get Report) on Monday announced its latest initiative to try and compete with online behemoth Amazon.com (AMZN - Get Report).  Walmart is rolling out a personalized shopping feature for its website that will enable it to tailor its home page to each customer. Local weather and events will be highlighted as well as customer searches and purchase history.

Much like the Amazon's customized service, the new offering from Walmart would recommend diapers and cribs for a new mom who recently purchased a baby stroller. If someone living in Dallas searches for a sports jersey Walmart.com would recommend Cowboy gear.

Walmart is planning a complete re-launch of its Web site in 2015 and this is the beginning of many new changes coming to their online site. Walmart is in the process of refocusing its attention back to online given the challenges it is experiencing in the discount sector. The online division of Walmart has seen sales grow 27% to $10 billion in the last year. This is still a tiny portion of its $477 billion annual revenue and a fraction of the $80 billion annual Amazon generates. However, with its main discount division suffering five straight quarters of decline, Walmart sees tremendous upside potential online.

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Walmart's challenges in the discount market will only intensify with last week's merger news of Dollar Tree  (DLTR - Get Report) and Family Dollar Stores (FDO - Get Report) so the pivot to online is smart.

Walmart may be late to the game or it may be focusing towards online at the perfect time. @WalmartLabs is the tech division of Walmart's e-commerce division. Last week the division made its 14th purchase since 2011, gobbling up Luvocracy, a three-year-old firm and an online community of half a million members that allows consumers to discover and buy products recommended by other people, from their own friends and family to bloggers and other influencers.

"Luvocracy was one of the first companies to enable the entire social shopping experience -- from discovery to commerce -- to occur within the four walls of its app," Ben Galbraith, vice president of global products for @WalmartLabs, said in a blog post on the day of the acquisition. Not only could members make suggestions on goods, users also could buy products directly from the site.

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SYM TRADE IT LAST %CHG
AMZN $438.62 -1.50%
DLTR $80.42 -0.88%
FDO $79.21 -0.21%
WMT $79.37 -0.59%
AAPL $132.65 1.82%

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