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Will Wal-Mart's New Supercenters Be ???Cool??? Enough?

Joseph Lu

Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. WMT recently opened two new “test” Supercenters in Florida and Texas, according to Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon in a pre-recorded earnings conference call.

A Raymond James RJF analyst team visited the new Supercenters and described in a note to clients that the new stores were “really cool,” reported by Barron’s.

That is not how anyone would typically describe Wal-Mart, but with the new updates on their mobile-phone app, remodeled store and added checkout option, Scan & Go, the huge retail corporation is looking to reshape their image.

“We’re bringing together all of the conveniences of Wal-Mart, great stores, convenient pickup, easy checkout and a cutting-edge app to deliver one seamless shopping experience,” Senior Vice President Daniel Eckert said.

The updated mobile software is part of Wal-Mart’s strategy in improving the customer experience in its 4,700 U.S. stores. The app will let users sign off on medical forms and view prescription pricing. Users can also place pharmacy orders and pay with their Wal-Mart Pay account through the app.

In making the checkout process smoother and faster, customers will also be able to scan items while shopping with Wal-Mart’s scan-and-go app or a store symbol scanner. 

The company redesigned many of their store sections to draw customers to stay longer. For the electronic and entertainment section, it’s now well-lighted and contemporary. Store managers have noticed customers are willing to stay longer in the area. New product organization was implemented in the fresh produce section. Popular products are now placed towards the back to lead customers through the whole section.

Wal-Mart ‘s stock is currently down 0.2% at $69.97 per share this afternoon.

These changes may not be cool but they are certainly improvements. The increase in the usage of online-shopping and mobile shopping in today’s market has forced many retailers to close down physical stores and focus on the online shopping.

Amazon.com AMZN, the online retail giant, reportedly plans to do the exact opposite, opening up brick-and-mortar bookstores in Washington. The company is also looking to create physical stores for other merchandise too. Amazon’s first grocery store, Amazon Go, is expected to open this year and will offer a “check-out free” experience to customers.

Some say Amazon’s strategy in opening up physical store is to diversify its business from the tough competition from Alibaba BABA and Wal-Mart. It looks like Wal-Mart isn’t going to make this easy.

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