Walmart is bumping up its digital offering with a revamped online baby registry and a brand new chatbot called “Hoo the Owl”. As the infant care market grows more and more competitive, here’s why the move might have more to do with the brand than the baby.
As part of the revamp, the big box giant has bolstered its offering with “thousands” of new baby products online, plus new mobile features that enable shoppers to share their registry, use Siri to open it, easily mark items as already purchased, and add items to their list while shopping in-store. Walmart caps off its new addition with “Hoo the Owl,” a chatbot that asks baby registrants questions about the baby’s due date, gender (gender neutral is an option), and nursery theme to be able to provide them with personalized choices based on the responses. The company is expecting to expand Hoo the Owl’s list of questions, such as whether the consumer has preferences for organic or sustainable products.
After the liquidation of Babies R’ Us, the baby market is crawling with competition. Retailers including Amazon, Target, and Buy Buy Baby bounced on up to the top with increased organic visibility against baby care and toy keywords, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Big Box. Walmart, too, increased investment against baby care and toy keywords, boosting paid visibility by 17% and 10% respectively. In addition to the new level of competition, Walmart’s latest round of changes comes at a time when eight in ten parents are using a mobile device to create registries, making the moves towards mobile and a more intuitive registry wise and forward-thinking ones.
But the white space in baby and kids retail is not reserved solely for the big three retailers. Buy Buy Baby also jumped in visibility against baby keywords year over year and eBay also improved its position against toy keywords. Other retailers, too, are entering the category with expanded digital assets. To promote its new Crate&kids line, Crate & Barrel promoted the label in its site header and began a substantial web advertising campaign.
So while opportunity in the online baby market is wide, it doesn’t look like retailers, including Walmart, want to share. If Walmart wants to stay on top of what’s fast becoming one of the fiercest categories of all, it will have to keep the improvements coming. In this market, if you’re not growing digitally, you aren’t growing at all.