BENTONVILLE, ARK. –
Walmart U.S. president/ CEO Bill Simon said the retailer plans to open what could amount to hundreds of Walmart Express stores across the country.
The 15,000-square-foot “mini” Walmarts will be used to backfill rural markets and penetrate urban areas, including Chicago, New York, San Diego and Washington DC. Construction has begun on the first Express location, about 20 miles from corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Ark.
“The aim here, folks, is to get the right model so that we can rapidly roll these things out,” Simon told attendees at a Bank of America Merrill Lynch Consumer Conference this month. “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.”
He said the assortments of the small-format stores will be tailored to their local markets, and that sales will be “supercharged” by the company’s multi-channel capabilities.
The latter include a “Pick Up Today” service that allows customers to purchase items online and receive free same-day pickup at a local Walmart store. Online orders are usually 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 company will begin a national rollout of the service this month.
The discounter presently offers Site to Store, a fiveyear- old service that ships online orders for free to a local Walmart store within four to seven days. It covers tens of thousands of SKUs, most of which are unavailable in stores.
The new Pick Up Today service will eventually include up to 40,000 items, including CE and video games, and is expected to be available at Walmart’s 3,600 flagship stores nationwide by June.
“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,”
senior VP and general manager Steve Nave said in a statement. “We’ve seen strong customer response from initial tests of Pick Up Today, and we’re pleased to expand the program to customers nationwide in the coming months.”
The retailer 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 location.