Walmart announced today that it’s giving its stores a facelift to provide a more digital experience that includes in-store navigation and contactless payments through the Walmart mobile app.
In a corporate blog post, Janey Whiteside, EVP and chief customer officer, Walmart U.S., explained some of the changes, including a new greeting at the store that encourages shoppers to download the Walmart app. The app, along with letter and number combinations on aisles, will provide digital navigation to help customers find products in-store.
Stores will also now include self-checkout kiosks and contactless payments via Walmart Pay and other (unspecified) payment services. Some locations will also have Walmart’s Scan & Go cashierless checkout option.
While these in-store changes have undoubtedly been in the works for quite some time, they are also reflective of the recently changing nature of grocery retail. People have their phones while they shop, you may as well put it to good use by providing navigation (and alerting shoppers to sales, promotions, etc.). This app-centric approach also seems easier than creating fleets of robot shopping carts that monitor your biometrics.
Additionally, the pandemic has made contactless payments pretty much table stakes at this point, so incorporating more of those options is a must-have for a giant retailer like Walmart.
Finally, and not for nothing, the Walmart refresh comes at a time when Amazon is beginning to launch it’s own chain of supermarkets. This shiny new kid on the block features digital-forward features like Alexa integration, smart shopping carts and, like Walmart, an emphasis on low prices.
Walmart’s changes will be in 200 Supercenters by the end of its fiscal year before expanding to roughly 1,000 stores by next the company’s next fiscal year.