Walmart #5260 Field-Trip Reveals Retail Future
Let me introduce you to the newly remodeled Walmart Store 5260
A couple weeks ago I sent a note to the team and said it was time to get out from behind the desk and go on a field trip. The field trip was to Walmart’s recently remodeled store 5260. It’s easy to get caught up in everyday tasks and forget to stay up to date with what’s happening around us and as many of you know, in our own backyard sits the world’s largest startup, Walmart.
Believe it or not, Walmart was once a startup as well, just like we are. I like to throw that out there because it helps put all of our beginnings in perspective. Simply driving around Northwest Arkansas it’s easy to find new things the retailer is working on, grocery pick-up services, convenience and gas store concept, and to the store of the future, Walmart store 5260. If you want to be at the center of brick and mortar and retailer innovation, Northwest Arkansas is a great place to start.
The team and I spent a few hours walking the updated store, checking out some of the new technologies, and ensuring that we are up to speed with the latest and greatest. The first thing that caught my attention as I walked in was that Walmart is working with Facebook’s messenger application to allow customers to access a store and communicate directly to that store. The concept of connecting directly to the store is the same design and beliefs that our Skosay messenger operates on. This type of execution is validation to what we have implemented with pilot customers as well in the retail marketplace. The difference in our Skosay messenger product is that it eliminates the need for a customer to download another application, is location based therefore it eliminates any need to search, and they can access as a guest as well.
The next update as we rounded the corner was the addition of a local restaurant. The restaurant specialized in urban tacos and BBQ. The tacos were tasty, the service was great, and the idea of having a local restaurant, even though it doesn’t fit with the normal Wal-Mart models of the past, seems compelling enough to provide customers an avenue that allows them an opportunity to keep their money local.
Scan & Go
Next up was the Walmart Scan & Go. Scan & Go allows a Walmart customer to quickly checkout a handheld device that allows you to take it through the store and scan your items as you go. The process of using Scan & Go is easy but requires you a bit of planning as you need to either have boxes or bags to put your groceries in to really help with speeding up the process of going to the grocery store. The Scan & Go system was a Symbol based product and looked to be operating on an Android platform.
One of the easiest things to see as you walk in the Walmart store is the advertising hanging from the ceiling and around every corner that either points you to access the million+ items on Walmart.com or utilize the Walmart Application to help with your shopping trip or to tryout their new Grocery Pick-up service. Walmart is working hard to ensure their e-commerce platforms and technology are front and center. Being a start-up, focused on retail technology, it’s exciting to see that Walmart definitely sees a value in encouraging customer engagement through their technology platforms.
A new feature in this store is the 2-sided checkout lane where a single checker can scan items on one side of the line and then turn around to the other side and scan items. The items are then bagged at the end and payment is completed there as well. This process does seem like it could help expedite the check-out process during the holiday timeframe when people are lined up to get those last minute items.
This isn’t something that new to Walmart. They have been testing pick-up services for a while but it appears that they are testing the flow of how a customer will pick-up their order at the store. Grocery pick-up is advertised as you pull in to the Walmart parking lot and arrows are drawn along the path that takes you to the designated area. A customer can pull up, put in their information and will be told to drive a designated space where their order will be delivered to their car.
The last and most obvious update to the store was the design elements. The traditional Walmart colors have been dropped from department signage in exchange for black and white, simple flat design concepts telling customers where certain departments are. In the produce section the spaces have been redesigned, opened up more, and fruits and vegetables are now placed in wood designed bins that give the store a much more local feel.
Having said all of this, the store is more inviting and innovative. Walmart is actively pursuing new ways to encourage customers to spend time in the store, but also allow them the opportunity to get those items when they are on the go. While many of these concepts have been tested with other retailers in the past it will take a large company such as Walmart to get behind many of these initiatives and help drive the brick and mortar market. At Skosay we believe in connecting what matters with who matters and have a variety of technologies and services for retailers and brands that connect them to their customers.