Waiting for Wal-Mart

Coming in Y2K: a brand-new website and a deal with AOL

It's not tough to see why 100 million customers shop at Wal-Mart every week. The nation's top retailer sells everything from sweatpants to string beans, rakes to Ritalin. It keeps its prices low, its shelves stocked and its big, wide aisles peppered with blue-smocked clerks. The company will ring up about $160 billion in domestic sales by year's end, with profits on track to top $5 billion. With that kind of scratch--and a proven knack for giving people what they want--the House That Sam Built seems a shoo-in for success in cyberspace.

So why is Wal-Mart's website so crummy? Product selection...

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