Wal-Mart is introducing a new format of store in Highland Village, Texas this week and you really need to check out the photographs of how they’ve designed it. If you’re used to tired, dirty midwestern Wal-Marts that were opened when Sam Walton was around, you’ll be blown away by what they’re doing with this new store.
According to Retailing Today [PDF], the new store format includes:
- Dramatic new Produce, Deli and Meat departments
- In-store Bakery, Sushi and Fresh Seafood stations
- A new-look CE & Entertainment department
- Bold merchandising in Pets, Pharmacy, Home and Toys
- A full service Bike Department
Here’s a pic to give you a sense of what they’re doing:
I have some additional pictures for you to enjoy…
What’s most interesting to me is that this is the first sign I’ve seen of how Wal-Mart, a retailing behemoth, is reacting to the need to attract more affluent customers to its stores. Why? Because more affluent customers are willing to buy higher margin white goods, consumer electronics and even grocery items. Indeed, the entire business model of Wal-Mart has always been minimizing margins through extraordinary efficiency so that they can have “low prices everyday” while still squeezing out a profit stream.
The problem is that customers aren’t going to drive their BMW or Lexus to a tired old Wal-Mart, so it’s clear that the company has to innovate both in terms of new stores like Highland Village and existing stores scattered throughout the United States.
Let me show you a couple of additional photos so you can really see just how much the new storefront looks like a Whole Foods or similar upscale “boomer” venue:
That’s certainly quite a bit different from the usual storefront I’m used to seeing as I drive across the midwest on my regular treks throughout the United States!!
This is perhaps the least changed from how they’ve been designing the newer “Super Walmart” stores, but even here, you can see an attention to detail and the “retail experience” that marks a dramatic change in the company strategy.
I’m middle of the road regarding Wal-Mart. A lot of business bloggers seem to really dislike Wal-Mart for its business practices, but I admit much about how the company leverages its position as #1 retailer to change the industry. This is no different: while Target’s spent years signing up and leveraging designers for attractive store-brand goods and Sears has rather stumbled with integrating its LL Bean acquisition into the existing [tired] Sears retail stores, Wal-Mart is completely reinventing itself with this new storefront in Highland Ranch, Texas.
It’ll be fascinating to see what demographic is attracted and whether it helps the company penetrate a new market and grow even bigger.
Referenced companies: Wal-Mart (NYSE: WMT), Target (NYSE: TGT), Whole Foods (Nasdaq: WFMI) and Sears (NYSE: SHLD).