BENTONVILLE Ark. — A prototype Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market that opened in Tulsa, Okla., this month gives health and beauty care more prominent placement with curved aisles and enhanced graphics, a spokeswoman said.
The 39,000-square-foot store is the result of more than a year of customer research, Melissa O'Brien, spokeswoman for Wal-Mart Stores, told SN.
The most dramatic changes are in the HBC and grocery sections of the store, the company said. Wal-Mart will be testing customer reaction and the success of its new design, and has plans to open 15 to 20 Neighborhood Market stores over the next year.
Some but not all will have the new format, O'Brien said. The next to open will be a Plano, Texas, store in the spring.
“The remodeling of the health and beauty section came from an understanding of the female customer and what she wants,” O'Brien said.
The HBC section stands out from the other in-line sections in Center Store with curved aisles that “make it easy to browse and shop and give the customer a more personal experience,” she said.
Bright spotlighting and signage with photos and larger lettering are meant to help the customer locate favorite products and be able to read product information comfortably. “For example, with lipsticks, if you like a certain brand with a number-coded color, those signs are larger so you can easily find what you like,” O'Brien said.
New towers — tall fixtures in the section — display the latest trends in health and beauty.
“The parallel is selling coffee,” said Ira Blumenthal, president, Co-Opportunities, Kennesaw, Ga. “It isn't a new idea, but when Starbucks developed new fixtures and lighting, it became experiential.”
Wal-Mart has similarly identified a need for creativity in design and decor, Blumenthal said. “There is a correlation between the time spent in a department and what is purchased,” he said. This is a valuable move for HBC because many of the products sold in the section are impulse products, Blumenthal added.
Buying HBC items is meant to be less rushed than buying groceries, but still simple, according to O'Brien. In addition, greeting cards and stationery were moved next to HBC, but against the back wall, “So you don't feel like people are trying to constantly get by you and you can have browsing time there, as well as in health and beauty,” she said. The pharmacy is located next to HBC.
The grocery section has been laid out to feature fresh bakery and produce items, as well as organics.