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CE Starting Slow In Walmart Express Stores


CE has a
modest presence in Walmart’s new
“mini” store format, but may assume a
larger role in the assortment as the rollout

The retailer is using the relatively small
15,000-square-foot Express stores to
backfill rural markets and to penetrate urban
areas including Chicago, New York,
San Diego and Washington DC, where
placement of its average 100,000-squarefoot
boxes is unfeasible.

While discount rival Target is similarly
opening five small-format City Target
stores in four urban markets in 2012,
Walmart plans to have 15 to 20 rural and
urban mini stores in place by year’s end, and could roll out what amount to hundreds
of locations across the country.

“The aim here is to get the right model
so that we can rapidly roll these things
out,” Walmart U.S. president/CEO Bill Simon
told investors in March. “At our peak
we built about 350 supercenters in a year,
so when we get this thing right, these are
going to come real fast, and we’re real excited
about this format.”

Simon said the assortments of
Walmart’s mini stores will be tailored to
their local markets, and that sales will
be “supercharged” by the company’s
multi-channel capabilities, which will
allow customers to place orders online
and retrieve their purchases at nearby
Express locations.

Regional variations aside, the stores’
initial CE component will largely consist
of “fill-in” and impulse-purchase products
like batteries, blank media, basic phones,
DVD players, movies and accessories,
Walmart home entertainment senior VP
Gary Severson told TWICE.

But that strategy may evolve as the Express
rollout progresses. “We’re committed
to learning and there are other possibilities,”
he said, such as assorting the
core CE line. “We may try that, and we
may find that customers could interact
with PCs to order products online and
pick them up locally.”

To that end, Walmart has expanded its
multi-channel offering to include a “Pick
Up Today” service that allows customers
to purchase items online and receive free
same-day pickup at a nearby Walmart
store. Orders are generally ready for pickup
in about four hours, and orders placed
after 6 p.m. are ready for pickup at 10 a.m.
the next day.

The new service will eventually cover up
to 40,000 items, including CE and video
games, and is expected to be available at
Walmart’s 3,000 stores by the end of this

“We’ve seen strong customer response
from initial tests of Pick Up Today,”

senior VP and
general manager Steve Nave, “and we’re
pleased to expand the program to customers

The discounter also offers Site to Store,
a five-year-old program that ships online
orders for free to a Walmart store of their
choice within four to seven days. The service
covers tens of thousands of SKUs,
most of which are unavailable within its
brick-and-mortar locations. “Walmart is
uniquely positioned to combine the power
of e-commerce with our national retail
footprint to offer a leading, multichannel
experience that delivers the best savings
and convenience to our customers,” Nave

Walmart is also testing a FedEx Site to
Store program in metro markets without a
Walmart presence that allows customers
to order online and ship products free to
a FedEx office.