Walmart’s New Store Design Aims to Give Department Stores a Run for Their Money

Walmart is testing a new store design.

In a blog post on Thursday, VP of marketing, store design, innovation, and experience Alvis Washington explained that the Bentonville, Ark.-based company has unveiled a new store experience in its incubator location, Store 4108 in Springdale, Ark.

“In today’s omnichannel world, customers still want to experience – touch, feel and try – items,” Washington wrote. “So, we’re now aiming to make customers feel wowed and proud when they shop with us. We’re using powerful design elements to show off amazing products that wow our customers, and when they see the value, they are proud of their choice and purchase.”

Walmart new store design concept
Digital screens welcome customers at they enter the store.
CREDIT: Mark Steele

According to Washington, the new redesign aims to “amplify the physical, human, and digital design elements” in its stores to “elevate” the shopping experience. Physical elements include new lighting, space enhancements, dynamic displays and more. Walmart’s visual merchandising team have worked on highlighting brands in new ways with the use of shop-in-shops across owned and national brands — just like traditional department stores. Washington also said that the retailer has strategically placed QR codes and digital screens around the store to activate the customer on their mobile devices.

This news comes as the retailer announced its first phase of its store redesign efforts in 2020, which focused on navigation and wayfinding. Washington stated that the company now has close to 1,000 stores renovated with the new 2020 design.

Gap Home at Walmart
Gap Home display showcases the elevated product offering from a national brand.
CREDIT: Mark Steele

The big-box chain first announced in Sept. 2020 that it was redesigning its stores with hopes to better integrate its brick-and-mortar, online and mobile experiences for shoppers. At the center of the overhaul is the company’s namesake app, which can now help customers navigate aisles and sections to find exactly what products they’re searching for in stores.

In a blog post at the time, EVP and chief customer officer Janey Whiteside explained that the Bentonville, Ark.-based company was inspired by airport layouts: Bold signage greets shoppers both inside and outside outposts, while a store directory guides guests through the retailer’s dedicated in-store sections for electronics, toys, baby products and more.

“Developed through a customer-centric lens, the design creates an elevated experience that appeals to shoppers through a sleek design aesthetic, a layout that spotlights products and an end-to-end digital navigation that guides customers throughout their journeys,” Whiteside said. “By creating a system that acknowledges our app navigation from beginning to end, we create an optimized omni-experience for both customers and associates.”

Walmart store parking lot
Walmart is installing pick-up spaces at its parking lots as part of its new store redesign.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Walmart

The locations feature self-checkout kiosks, as well as contactless payment solutions, including Walmart Pay, to limit contact between workers and customers amid the coronavirus pandemic. Select units will also have the company’s “Scan & Go” service available to shoppers.

Throughout 2020, Walmart planed to roll out the redesign to 200 Supercenters, plus some Health Centers and Neighborhood Markets. It expects that a total of 1,000 outposts — out of its 4,500 locations in the United States — will be redone by the end of the 2021 fiscal year.

Walmart store redesign
Inside a newly redesigned Walmart store.
CREDIT: Mark A. Steele/Courtesy of Walmart

“We’re always listening to our customers and innovating our in-store, online and mobile experiences to meet and exceed their expectations,” Whiteside shared. “We want their time with us to be enjoyable, and we’re working hard to create ways for them easily toggle between shopping channels — or use them together.”

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