The Supply Side: Retailers are testing new formats in 2022

Physical stores are essential for consumers, even as online sales continue to grow. Walmart, Dollar General and Dick’s Sporting Goods are ramping up efforts this year to test new physical store formats with digital and experiential enhancements.

Walmart recently unveiled its latest store format enhancements at store #4108 at Elm Springs Road in Springdale. The retail giant called the new format “time well spent”. It aims to make Walmart a destination where customers want to hang out, said Alvis Washington, vice president of store design, innovation and experience at Walmart.

“For millions of customers, our stores and [employees] are the reason they love Walmart. These are the greatest strengths of our brand. We’re always listening to our customers’ feedback to inspire, evolve and refresh the in-store experience,” Washington said.

The new and improved store design focuses on improving the shopping experience in general merchandise and higher margin categories like home, fashion, babies and beauty.

“In today’s omnichannel world, customers still want to experience — touch, smell and try — items. So, we now aim for customers to feel blown away and proud when shopping at Walmart. We use powerful design elements to show off amazing products that wow our customers,” Washington said.

Walmart said the redesign phase would amplify physical, human and digital design elements to inspire customers and improve their experience. In the beauty department, store planners have improved lighting, and there are interactive displays that showcase products and provide tutorials on how to use certain products.

Walmart removed a page from Target’s playbook with the redesign and highlighted the products in elevated displays at a store for Gap home furnishings at the corner of two central aisles. The bed is made up of Gap furniture, and there are pillows, sheets, and other decor on the raised display. Customers can activate their phone to shop a wider assortment online with on-screen QR readers.

Walmart also chose other aisle intersections to set up elevated product displays that highlight brands like Reebok and Justice for Girls and highlight product categories like men’s grooming supplies and cosmetics. for babies.

Washington said Walmart’s enabled corners in the general merchandise area target exciting displays at the crossroads of specific departments that draw in customers. This allows them to touch, feel and be part of the space, allowing them to discover and access all the products. retailer offers.

Baby products are also an area where Walmart is focusing its new design. Elevated displays feature all the items needed to create a dream nursery, plus strollers and car seats that are out of the box for test drives.

The new design also provides more space for shoppers to explore the category items Walmart offers online with digital touchpoints in areas such as pets. The retailer expands its services and products. By scanning a QR code through digital screens in the pet products area, shoppers can find additional bedding options, inquire about pet insurance services, or have a 50-pound bag delivered pet food at home. The Elm Springs store also has veterinary services that provide medical care and pet grooming.

Walmart said it will continue to test, learn and make changes to its store formats based on customer feedback.

Scott Benedict, vice president of partnerships at marketing agency Rogers WhyteSpyder, said the updates to Walmart Supercenter are likely to have a positive impact on the retail giant’s ability to ensure that store shoppers are starting to turn to for additional products. He said the stores welcome millions of customers each week and having elevated product displays in high traffic corners was a great strategy for driving traffic to the website.

“Setting up signs and displays for shoppers to access inventory online is also a way for consumers to meet their shopping needs that day. Walmart tells in-store shoppers that they have a whole different side to their business,” Benedict said.

He said getting in-store shoppers to start shopping online is the first step to eventually signing up for Walmart+. He said Walmart using the general merchandise side of the store to launch a remodel is a good indication of their plan to drive more online and omnichannel business.

“It’s a logical place for Walmart to test and learn. It will be interesting to see if and when they try to install some of these ideas on the grocery side of the business,” he said.

Dollar General is rolling the dice with its pOpshelf format with new stores in Texas. The retailer said it would accelerate plans to open 1,000 pOpshelf-format stores by 2025, starting with 100 stores this year.

“Throughout pOpshelf’s first year, we’ve been very pleased with customer demand for the concept’s trending products, pricing and shopping experience,” said Emily Taylor, director of merchandising at Dollar General. . “pOpshelf is an integral part of Dollar General’s innovative and long-term strategy as we continually look for ways to better serve customers and diversify the relevant products we offer.”

Stores will carry a range of items, mostly under $5, including home decor, beauty products, crafts, party supplies, specialty foods and electronics.

Benedict said Dollar General has a rural business and the format is a way for the company to test larger metropolitan markets. He said the retailer has proven it can successfully set up stores in communities that are just sprawling places on the road.

“We’ll have to see if the format resonates in major metropolitan areas against more competition,” he said.

Dick’s Sporting Goods is stepping outside the box with its new House of Sports locations adjacent to stores in Rochester, NY, and Knoxville, Tennessee. Dick’s said House of Sports venues provide a place to gather and learn. The experiential format includes a playing field, a climbing wall, a pro golf shop with putting greens, a batting cage, a spike house and a fitness and training center to try out the equipment sold in the neighboring store.

Jan Kniffen, consultant and CEO of Kniffen Worldwide, said it was an exciting proposition for Dick’s Sporting to take the experience to a new level and improve customer loyalty.

Benedict said specialty retailers have a harder time generating foot traffic because they don’t sell consumables purchased weekly. He loves this strategy for Dick’s, which also owns a major team sports equipment business. The venue offers teams the opportunity to spend time together at the House of Sports, which helps build brand loyalty.

Editor’s note: The side section offers of Talk Business & Politics focuses on the businesses, organizations, issues and individuals engaged in providing products and services to retailers. The Supply Side is managed by Talk Business & Politics and sponsored by Propak logistics.

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