Walmart is endeavoring to make its bricks-and-mortar shopping experience more pleasurable, a recognition that at this time in retail history, just being accessible may not be enough.
In a blog posting at the end of last week, the company said it is working to amplify "the physical, human and digital design elements in our stores to inspire customers and elevate the experience. Physical elements include lighting, space enhancements, dynamic displays and more. Our visual merchandising experts have highlighted exciting brands and created engaging experiences that bring to life the human element. Finally, QR codes and digital screens create opportunities for digital exploration. But making the store more engaging isn’t enough. We have to do all of this in a way that is unique to Walmart."
According to the company, that means adhering to certain "guiding principles:"
• "Activated corners: Exciting displays at the corners of certain departments pull customers in and help them touch, feel and become a part of the space, allowing them to discover all that we have to offer. Home may feature a living room or bedroom set up where the customer can squeeze a throw pillow or feel the coziness of a blanket, then find those items onsite to purchase and take home, or order them online."
• "Elevated brand shops: Taking a 'store within a store experience' to the next level.
Apparel will highlight owned and national brands. Great prices are a given, but we’ll celebrate quality and style, in style.
"New parents will not want for inspiration when they visit the Baby department. They will be greeted by elevated displays showcasing all the items needed to create a dream nursery as well as strollers and car seats that are brought out of the box to allow for test drives."
"Beauty will also showcase exciting shops where new and trending items are given a home, and men’s grooming tools can be seen and experienced."
• "More space to discover: In these new reimagined spaces, we have purposefully created more space for our customers to explore and discover the breadth and depth of what our stores have to offer, and we’ve optimized assortment to elevate storytelling that draws customers in."
• "Digital touchpoints: Using our stores as an initial display of the great variety of products and brands, we can communicate to customers the vast range of products and services Walmart offers online through the strategic use of QR codes and digital screens. 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."
These adjustments, the company said, are being implemented as "a new, signature experience in our incubator location, Store 4108 in Springdale, Arkansas, that we call 'Time Well Spent.' It focuses on making Walmart a destination where customers want to spend their time."
- KC's View:
It is interesting - and, I think, fairly accurate - that The Street describes this as Walmart targeting a Target-like experience: "Customers visit Target because they want to browse in the way that people might walk around a mall. That means that people sometimes visit the chain when they don't need something and that leads to added sales -- whether they decide to buy a coffee at Starbucks or end up purchasing something else they didn't know they needed."
I have to be honest - I don't know who those customers are, and I cannot in any way shape or form relate to that described experience. Browse around a mall, a Target or a Walmart without a specific goal in mind? Yikes. I cannot imagine.
I'm not sure that Walmart has specifically said it wants to be more like Target … though it certainly has sought to be more like Amazon in its e-commerce offerings. It certainly makes sense to look at and see who is doing certain things right, and where one has weaknesses, adopt some of the approaches that are working for others - specifically when those things are working for customers.