As part of its efforts to create seamless omnichannel shopping experiences for shoppers, Walmart is bridging language barriers by expanding the Spanish language search capability on Walmart.com.
Walmart is prioritizing Spanish search functionality for a couple of reasons, according to a Walmart news release authored by Rini Joshi, senior manager of product, and Amit Vasant Bande, senior director of product.
First, prior to 2020, most of Walmart’s Spanish-speaking customers primarily shopped in stores. The COVID-19 pandemic caused significant behavioral shifts in virtually every customer segment, and as cases continued to rise, in-store shoppers began shifting to online. At the height of the pandemic, Spanish queries across the Walmart app and website increased more than five times their pre-pandemic levels, according to the release.
Second, Walmart cited that roughly 18% of the U.S. population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, a percentage that is predicted to grow to 28% by 2060.
In 2021, Walmart launched a search translation feature on Walmart.com and in the Walmart app, which enables shoppers to search in Spanish for commonly purchased items. The solution, built by Walmart’s global tech associates, uses natural language processing (NLP) to detect language, discern nuances and translate queries to deliver a smoother shopping experience. The retailer says it currently translate more than 600,000 of the most frequently searched items and is adding more every day.
In July, Walmart began offering shoppers the ability to opt in or out of the translated query. Joshi and Bande outlined how this is possible:
A digital user searches for “leche” (Spanish for “milk”) on the website or app.
The search results page serves items based on the English translation of the word, displays a message informing users of the translation and the option to opt-out in one click.
If the user opts out of the translation, the search results return products that include the word “leche,” like “dulce de leche,” in the title or description.
This experience enables shoppers to search in Spanish for over 600,000 of the most ordered items. This year, Walmart will continue enhancing the Spanish experience, including the launch of predictive search and continual personalization and contextualization, with plans to launch a full end-to-end universal Spanish experience in the future, according to the release.
“We have always focused on our customers, seeking to understand their needs, desires and wish lists,” Joshi and Bande wrote in the release. “And we will continue innovating to meet customers where, when and how they want to shop.”