[Walmart Corporate from Bentonville, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Walmart Changes Look To Win ‘Upscale’ Customers

Walmart has always been known for its low prices, not its swanky appeal. But, in the new era of retail shopping, the store that used to warn customers to “watch of for falling prices” is changing strategy and going for a brand new look to try and win over “upscale” customers it loses to the likes of Target and other stores.

Your local Walmart is about to look a lot nicer.

CNBC writes, “The big-box retailer, known for competing with value, has turned five of its SuperCenters into flagship stores with the remodeled look. They are located in Teterboro and North Bergen in New Jersey; Yaphank, New York; Quakertown, Pennsylvania.; and Hodgkins, Illinois. All of the flagships have debuted in the past three months — with North Bergen and Teterboro opening in mid-January.

Walmart’s snazzier look is part of a broader effort to sell more discretionary items — like jeans, lipstick and baby strollers — that usually carry a higher profit margin than groceries. Last summer, it tested the sleeker model at one of its big-box stores in Springdale, Arkansas, a close drive from its corporate headquarters.

Alvis Washington, Walmart’s vice president of marketing, store design, innovation and experience, said it was time to bring the look to other markets after getting positive feedback in Arkansas. In company surveys, he said nearly every shopper said the store’s displays and mannequins encouraged them to browse longer.

“They appreciate the fact that we’re still true to who we are as Walmart,” he said. “Great prices. But then also we now have these new brands that we’re actually showcasing in inspirational ways.”

The industry outlet Chain Store Age said, “The redesign has a sleek, modern look and incorporates use of the Walmart app. It also features self-checkout kiosks as well as contactless payment solutions, including Walmart Pay. Select locations will also have Scan & Go, which lets customers manage their checkout directly using their mobile phones.

Walmart said it tested the new concept in select stores and is “excited” by the initial feedback from customers and employees. The design will be rolled out to nearly 200 locations by the end of this fiscal year (Walmart’s fiscal year runs through the end of January), reaching close to 1,000 stores by next fiscal year. As the new look is rolled out, the chain will ‘continue to get customer and associate feedback and evolve the design accordingly,” said Janey Whiteside, executive VP and chief customer officer, Walmart.’ 

In comments about the new design, Meyar Shiek, president and chief commerce officer of Kibo, said that Walmart continues to level the playing field against its top competitor, Amazon.

‘The new store look and digital features build on Walmart’s long-term omnichannel strategy and serve as a logical follow-up to their recent Walmart+ membership announcement,’ he said. “The new store format, digital app and touch-less check-out features add a new level of convenience for Walmart shoppers. What’s more, it further leverages Walmart’s wide network of stores while seamlessly integrating the digital features and benefits shoppers want in their experiences today.’”

The nation’s largest retailer has already updated five stores in Teterboro and North Bergen, New Jersey; Yaphank, New York; Quakertown, Pennsylvania; and Hodgkins, Illinois. The “store of the future” redesigns include improved lighting, more space, and better store displays,” according to Fox News. 

The news channel continues: “Sections in the new stores are equipped with QR codes – which Walmart calls touchpoints – allowing customers to check for similar items to the ones shown in the section.

‘For example, in our Pets area, a customer may scan the QR code to find additional dog bed options, learn about Walmart’s pet insurance service options, or have a 20-pound bag of kibble delivered to their door,’ Walmart said.

Walmart said it will ‘continue to test, learn, and make changes’ based on customer feedback adding that they want them to ‘feel wowed and inspired – and that their time was well spent.'”

Walmart claims it has updated about a thousand of its nearly 4,800 of its stores in the United States. The retail giant has said that it intends to upgrade between 800 and 1000 stores per year over the next few years. 

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