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Store Upgrades by Walmart and Target

04/17/2019

In a concerted drive to compete with Amazon, both Walmart and Target announced upgrades to their stores. While Target intends renovating 1,000 locations by 2020, the scope of the Walmart initiative involving 5,000 stores coupled with high technology will require investment of $11 billion.

Walmart will deploy robotics to increase efficiency and reduce labor costs. The company intends installing 1,500 autonomous floor cleaners, 300 shelf scanners and 1,200 unloaders at delivery docks. To improve click-and-collect transactions, Walmart will install 1,700 pick-up towers, 3,100 delivery locations and 1,600 grocery delivery locations.

Walmart spokesperson Delia Garcia quoted in Digiday, stated “we are using the stores as that connector to be able to serve customers how and whenever they want.” She added “Customers can order online and use in-store pick up towers.” Walmart will also include self-checkout machines, upgrade grocery presentations, install private consultation rooms in pharmacy departments and will add new signage.

According to retail industry analysts, there is a need to upgrade stores and improve appearance, to enhance the buying experience. Evaluating the return from investment in upgrades is difficult, but analysts maintain that declines in sales and consumer loyalty are consistently attributable to stores “which are old and gross”. This reality was apparently lost on the management of Sears at the outset of its decline that  can be traced back to neglect of appearance, staid brands and an unexciting ambience dating back to the 1970s.