A One of a Kind Wal-Mart
By George Anderson
A sushi bar, 500 kinds of organic produce, baggers at checkouts and $3,500 big screen television sets are just some of the things you’ll find at the newest Wal-Mart Supercenter in Plano, Texas.
To be sure, this is a Wal-Mart unlike any other. The chain is experimenting with new products and services to see if it can go beyond selling everyday staples. The objective is to entice more affluent consumers and encouraging them to buy higher tickets items, as well.
Ryan Lincks, the project manager for the Plano store, said the retailer is not looking to move away from its core customer base but judging if it can add more shoppers with the new format.
Britt Beemer, chairman of America’s Research Group, sees an opportunity for Wal-Mart. “When you’ve already got your stores open 24 hours a day, the only way you’re going to get your sales to increase is for someone to buy an $8 bottle of vinegar instead of a $1.12 bottle of vinegar,” he told the Fort Worth Star Telegram. “They can probably get their customers to spend 20 percent more per visit if they’ve got the right goods in the stores.”
Wal-Mart has no announced plans to take the current store concept beyond this one unit, but instead appears to be using the Plano location as a learning lab.
“There’s so much competition here that the customer will tell us very quickly if we’re doing something right or wrong,” said Wal-Mart’s Lincks. “We’re trying lots of different things. If they don’t work, we’ll try something else.”
Moderator’s Comment: Is Wal-Mart’s test of a more upscale approach to doing business at the new Plano store consistent
with how it has evaluated potential store, merchandising and product strategies in the past? What do you expect are likely next steps for Wal-Mart from the opening of this store?
George Anderson – Moderator