Both shoppers and brands experienced significant changes to the Walmart online shopping experience last week. The retailer launched a new omnichannel site to officially combine its previously separate Pickup and Delivery site with Walmart.com. Now shoppers can quickly and easily see the channel’s full product assortment in one place.
What Can You Expect from the New Walmart Online Shopping Experience?
Early changes we’ve seen within the Walmart online shopping experience are primarily within the Buy Box area. Walmart seems to be putting a larger emphasis on imagery, with the images displayed more prominently on the PDP. With creative taking up more real estate, other decision-driving information such as the product title, variations, reviews, and the Buy Box have been moved to the right-hand side of the PDP.
The SERP has undergone some changes as well. It’s now primarily a grid view across all categories, and gone is the option to choose grid or list view. From our preliminary discovery, the list view is hard to come by. With this change, products are losing the shelf description that makes snippets of valuable product information easily seen by shoppers scrolling through the SERP.
As with any e-commerce site update, there may be shake-ups in search ranks, and this is especially true as Walmart items are divided into three categories:
Since all items are now combined into one site, shoppers can utilize filters within the search results to receive them how they prefer. This merge of in-store and online-only items means an influx of products will be competing for real estate, and search algorithms have likely been adjusted. Now is a crucial time to check the page search rank for your products to see if they’ve lost any visibility. It’s also a great time to get a jump on your competition and make any changes that could improve your share of voice.
Finally, it’s also worth noting, a known issue with the new omnichannel site is the removal of rich media and enhanced content from the PDPs. In an email to brands, the Walmart Marketplace Team noted these features would be available again in early 2022.
Built for Better Initiative and Badges
Walmart has also recently begun implementing badges similar to Amazon. For example we’ve seen a “popular pick” badge on the top left corner of the product image on the SERP and above the Buy Box on the PDP.
Last week, Walmart also implemented their new “Built for Better” initiative which includes badges to identify “Built for Better for You” and “Built for Better for the Planet” products. So far, 2,000 products have been categorized into one of these categories, and more will be added over time.
The Effect on Walmart Advertising
These changes to the SERPs are resulting in significant impacts for advertisers. The most prominent is the number of sponsored placements on the search grid, which increased from two total placements to up to eight. Each search grid page also has a sponsored ad carousel for “products you may also like” at the bottom.
Next, the “homepage” and “stock up” placements are no longer available. They were only on the pickup and delivery side of the platform, so the ad inventory is unavailable within the unified platform.
And, on the item page, the ad below the Buy Box has a new look with a prominent add-to-cart button, alongside star ratings, reviews, the product title, and main product image. Further down, there’s a new “similar items you might like” carousel before the product description, which pushes the content down below the fold. This carousel mixes sponsored placements and non-sponsored items for consideration.
Then, near the bottom of the item page, there is a sponsored products carousel with all sponsored placements, and at the very bottom there is another carousel labeled “more items to explore” with all sponsored placements.
With these significant adjustments on ad placements, Code3 search strategists are anticipating changes to how they approach strategy and how campaigns perform. With more ad inventory available on the search grid placements, we are forecasting an increase in impressions and a decrease in CPC. The additional search placements will also likely lead to an increase in spend, impressions, and click-through rates for both automatic and manual campaigns.
When it comes to manual campaigns, ads can only appear in the search in grid placements, so spend for manual targeting is sure to increase. With this in mind, it’s important to optimize keywords and bids to ensure your ad is showing up in all available placements.
So what do all these changes mean for your brand? As noted above, now is the time to pay more attention to your products' organic and search performance on Walmart and pivot as necessary. And it’s also important to update your product page content and imagery to make sure it’s accurate, optimized, and images stand out. We also suggest taking a look at product attributes to ensure they’re updated.
If this update has you overwhelmed, and you could use the support of a strategic partner to navigate these new waters, please reach out or fill out the form below.