Wal-Mart relaunches Web site

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Wal-Mart Stores on Oct. 31 relaunched its walmart.com Web site, with a focus on 12 categories of products emphasizing electronics, books, videos and music. The site, down for a month for remodeling, is the giant retailer's third attempt to solidify its online presence. The site now offers fewer commodity products but has continued some features of its previous ventures, such as a Photo Center that allows film developed at stores to be shared online. It also has free digital greeting cards, a direct link to Southwest Airlines and a store locator. Shipping on the site, once at a low flat rate, now includes a complex system of fixed charges, plus per-order charges. For example, books cost $2.97 to ship, plus a 50 cents per-item charge. Savings are generated when more than one type of item is shipped. Items can be returned to a store or by using a return shipping label. In a message to customers, Wal-Mart said that although the online store is based in Silicon Valley as a joint venture with Accel Partners, Palo Alto, Calif., its attitude is rooted in Bentonville, Ark., home of Wal-Mart's late founder, Sam Walton.

Copyright October 2000, Crain Communications Inc.

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