business news in context, analysis with attitude

With brief, occasional, italicized and sometimes gratuitous commentary…

•  From Business Insider:

"Walmart is making yet another play at trying to capture some of Amazon's e-commerce market share.

"This time, the Bentonville, Arkansas-based retail giant unveiled a sleek new redesign of its website and app Monday, implementing a similar interface to its Seattle, Washington-based rival.

"The website and app feature bigger, glossier photos, and snappy names for product categories and promotions, such as 'spring for Easter must-haves' and 'fun decor under $20.'

"Tom Ward, Walmart's chief e-commerce officer, wrote in a blog post Monday that the redesign 'offers a more engaging way to browse and discover our incredible assortment.'

"'The new homepage offers a product-focused experience that better mirrors the way our customers love to shop, highlighting the items that matter most to them at any given moment,' Ward said."

CNBC writes that "the big-box retailer’s online makeover comes as consumers become more reluctant to buy discretionary merchandise, such as clothing and consumer electronics, while paying higher prices for necessities like food and housing. Sales of discretionary general merchandise in the U.S. have fallen 4% in dollars and 5% in units year over year as of February, according to Circana."

Ironic, since one of the criticisms that Amazon has been getting lately is that its site is too cluttered, and that there is so much advertising that it is sometimes hard to find the items one actually wants.  There's only one reason for this - advertising generates revenue.  But it doesn't always generate customer satisfaction.

•  Advertising Age reports that "Walmart is advertising its partnership with Paramount+ for the first time on national TV in a new push for its Walmart+ membership program.  The campaign … highlights the retailer's subscription program’s membership benefits, including free delivery on orders $35 and over, free shipping on all site-to-home orders and discounts on gasoline."

According to the story, "Walmart and Paramount's partnership gives Walmart+ members free membership in the ad-supported version of Paramount+. The duo announced the plan in August and implemented it in September. It puts Walmart+ on a more even footing with rival Amazon Prime in combining free shipping with video streaming, but at less cost. Amazon Prime membership costs $139 annually, compared to $98 for Walmart+."

It is, AdAge notes, the first national ad push in this direction for Walmart, but the motivation is clear:  "Just getting all existing Paramount+ households to join Walmart+ could more than double the latter's membership. CivicScience research late last year showed 7% of people in the U.S. reported being Walmart+ members vs. 61% for Amazon Prime."