Walmart launches four new omnichannel test stores with ‘rapid prototype’ approach

Walmart has outlined plans to turn four of its stores into test centres for piloting new technology.

The US retail giant on Thursday said it was focused on meeting the needs of both online and in-store shoppers with four test centre stores.

Writing in a blog post last week, Walmart senior vice president of next generation stores John Crecelius said 2020 had “ushered in a new era of retail” and the customers are asking retailers to “show up” differently.

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The stores will test new solutions for Walmart to help incorporate online fulfilment activity as well as working as physical stores.

Crecelius said the stores would “continuously rotate” new technology and physical enhancements, with two sites located near Walmart’s headquarters in Arkansas now up and running and two more to be announced.

“To increase the speed at which we learn, product and technology teams will be embedded in the stores to prototype, test and iterate solutions in real time, scaling what works and scrapping what doesn’t, creating a true rapid prototype environment,” Crecelius explained.

Omni-assortment is a main priority for the retailer, allowing online customers to shop for anything they could find in-store.

Crecelius said inventory speed, first-time pick rate and the checkout experience are other three areas of focus for Walmart.

“In this new era of retail, assets that used to serve a single purpose will transform into flexible, scalable assets that can be used in multiple ways to serve customers how, when and where they need,” Crecelius  said.

“Evolving our stores is just the beginning. In the coming weeks and months, we’ll share more about how we’re reimagining our other physical assets to better serve the needs of customers today and into the future,” Crecelius added.

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