Walmart is testing a new design and digital screens
A redesign of the display of products being tested at Walmart Inc.’s incubator in Springdale includes layouts and interactive digital displays intended to create “a destination where customers want to spend their time.”
The Bentonville-based retailer launched the changes Jan. 27 at store 4108 as part of the second phase of a redesign effort it began in September 2020. Walmart is using the store as a testing ground for new ideas which could later be implemented more widely in its more than 4,700 stores in the United States.
The first part of the redesign involved prominent signage marking sections of the store and a new layout with improved navigation through Walmart’s app.
With “overwhelmingly positive” customer feedback, nearly 1,000 stores have been revamped as part of Phase 1, the company said.
While Phase 1 was still in the incubator stage, it earned Walmart a spot among 25 finalists — out of 62 submissions — at the Retail Design Institute’s 50th International Design Competition in October.
This second phase, which Walmart is calling “Time Well Spent,” aims to make Walmart “a destination where customers want to spend their time,” said Alvis Washington, Walmart’s vice president of marketing for design, innovation and store experience.
“We’re amplifying the physical, human and digital design elements in our stores to inspire customers and enhance the experience,” Washington said.
Physical changes include improved lighting and a layout that creates more space in stores, Washington said. Other changes include corner displays and branded shops, he said.
“Our visual merchandising experts highlighted exciting brands and created engaging experiences that bring the human element to life,” Washington said.
A short video on Walmart’s news website shows GAP-branded bedding on a made up bed with pillows. The video also shows Reebok products displayed in a large area under their own label, almost like a store within a store.
Washington said this concept will be carried over to other departments such as the baby department, where strollers and car seats are rolled out of the boxes for “test drives.” And new parents “will be greeted by elevated displays showcasing all the elements needed to create a dream nursery,” he said.
Apparel will be curated to showcase national and Walmart-owned brands, Washington said, and beauty “will also feature exciting stores where new and trending items will be housed.”
Technological innovations such as QR codes and digital displays are present throughout the redesigned store, helping to integrate the in-store and online shopping experience.
As an example, Washington said, “In our pet area, a customer can scan the QR code to find additional dog bed options, learn more about pet insurance service options from Walmart company or have a 20-pound bag of kibble delivered to your doorstep”.
Washington said initial customer feedback has been positive. “We will continue to test, learn and make changes based on what our customers tell us,” he said.
Critics compared some of the redesign elements with the merchandising approach employed by rival Target and used for years by department stores.
Sanford Stein, founder of the LinkedIn platform Retail Speak, told Retail Dive that the strategies used by big-box discounters like Walmart and Target are what he calls “department store vocabulary.”
“I’m talking about solution-based marketing rather than product-based marketing,” he told the industry outlet. “It’s something a good department store of the past has done well, and it’s increasingly important as sales continue to move more online.”
Carol Spieckerman, retail consultant and president of Spieckerman Retail, said many of the test store’s improvements, such as improved apparel displays, improved navigation and traffic flows, “should resonate with shoppers at Wal-Mart”.
“Some of the ideas may not be new compared to other retailers, but they will stand out in the Walmart environment,” Spieckerman said.
It’s possible that the store’s heavy use of technology may intimidate some less tech-savvy customers. But Spieckerman said that even if the tests fail with traditional shoppers, “they may resonate with younger shoppers who are critical to Walmart’s long-term success.”
“Either way,” she said, “Walmart undoubtedly learns a lot from both visible and behind-the-scenes testing that is incubated in the store. other places.”
“Overall,” Spieckerman said, “Walmart is finding a nice touch between high-tech and high-touch in Springdale.”