Dallas Morning News : Sep. 6--Are you ready to book your next vacation? Wal-Mart's long-anticipated online strategy will include a site that will allow you to do just that early next year.
The world's largest retailer said late Tuesday that it has developed an online travel store that will compete directly with Sabre Inc.'s Travelocity.com by selling airline tickets, car rentals and hotel reservations.
On Monday, Fort Worth-based Sabre said it is merging Travelocity with Preview Travel Inc. to form what the companies expect will be the most-visited travel site on the Internet.
Glenn Habern, senior vice president of new business at Wal-Mart, said the travel site was "built from scratch" unlike some of the new technology and services that Wal-Mart has used from other companies in recent months.
Wal-Mart's travel store will be ready next year. A photo service and an online pharmacy are also expected to be operational early next year.
Until then, Wal-Mart's employees, both at corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark., and at its stores, will test the services and provide feedback to make improvements, Mr. Habern said.
Wal-Mart presented the site improvements to Wall Street analysts in Bentonville for a two-day meeting.
For the holiday shopping season, Wal-Mart said it will beef up its online selection of toys, electronics, books and holiday decorative merchandise.
Wal-Mart also said its Internet store won't leave cookies, or files used to retrieve personal information, on customers' computers. In addition, Wal-Mart said it is testing interactive kiosks in 60 stores for shoppers who don't have access to the Internet.
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