Walmart has always been known for bottom-dollar deals. But pleasant, well-designed stores? Not so much — unless you're into harsh fluorescent lighting and mundane merchandising.
The nation's largest retailer knows it has some work to do to catch up to rivals like Target, so it's ready to implement a serious makeover. A recently unveiled prototype store in Springdale, Arkansas, features a design overhaul that focuses on helping shoppers discover and experience new products. The aim, of course, is to encourage customers to linger and buy more instead of simply checking items off their list and leaving.
The increased attention on customers' in-store experiences follows in the footsteps of Target, which unveiled a major redesign five years ago with its "next gen" stores. And as Retail Dive notes, the more big-box stores like Walmart and Target invest in customer experience, the bigger the likelihood rivals including Macy's and Kohl's start to sweat.
So what exactly does Walmart's redesign entail? The highlights:
- Digital touchpoints that use screens and QR codes to help shoppers find related products, place online orders, and learn more about different items and services.
- More-engaging corner displays that encourage customers to touch and feel products before purchasing them. For example, the home department might feature a living room or bedroom set up with furniture shoppers can actually test out.
- A more spacious layout that helps shoppers better find what they need.
- Displays that more clearly highlight certain brands and products, including trending beauty and baby items.
Walmart's previous efforts to improve store navigation and wayfinding was met with "overwhelmingly positive" feedback and is now incorporated in nearly 1,000 stores, the chain says.
Even chains as massive as Walmart are having to work harder than ever to give customers an incentive to come shop at physical locations. Online sales represented about 13% of all retail sales in the U.S. in the third quarter of 2021, according to Statista. That's up from only about 5% in 2011. The number spiked as high as 15.7% in 2020 amid the pandemic.