By Russ and TiĂ±a De Maris
Weâ€™re not sure that Sam Walton would recognize the store that he spawned as â€śWalmart Discount Cityâ€ť back in 1962. While there have been a lot of changes since then, Walmartâ€™s new design decidedly makes Samâ€™s original stores look somehow quaint. Havenâ€™t seen one yet? It wonâ€™t be long before you do: Walmartâ€™s new design is based on the digital age, and thereâ€™ll be 200 of them by the end of January. Give it another year, and the big corporation says itâ€™ll have 1,000.
Walmart is sold on the idea that going digital means more customers. The Walmart app is central to the new design. But if you donâ€™t have the Wally app, fear not, the store will still serve you. Before you go, youâ€™ll likely have checked yourself out using an electronic kiosk. But if youâ€™ve got the app, in some stores you wonâ€™t even need to bother with a pause: Scan & Go, a part of your e-gear, will let you scan your purchases as you pick them up, then head out the door without further ado.
Got a shopping list, but arenâ€™t familiar with the store layout? Not a problem â€“ Walmartâ€™s new design combines that Walmart app with aisles labeled with numbers and letters. Look at your app, youâ€™ll find exactly where to go.
Even if you donâ€™t have an app, Walmartâ€™s new design will still point the way. On entry to the store, customers will find â€śway findingâ€ť methods reminiscent of a trip to a modern airport. Signage near the entry will direct you to major departments. Large graphics over those same departments will make them easy to spot.
Outside signage is also getting an upgrade with a nod to the digital age. So many folks are using their Walmart apps to pre-order groceries and other goods these days. The problem is like some have encountered: If youâ€™re not familiar with the particular store where youâ€™re making a pickup, where to go? A huge blue arch hangs above the area of the store where customers can drive to pick up their goods. Walmart says the signs will be so gigantic you wonâ€™t be able to miss them from nearly anywhere in the parking lot.
The entire process is aimed at pumping you through the store at a faster pace. For the health-conscious, even stores without the â€śscan and goâ€ť option will make contactless transactions standard fare. If youâ€™re concerned about COVID-19 while traveling, the self-serve kiosks will cut down on exposure opportunities. The true â€ścontactlessâ€ť operation at â€śselect locationsâ€ť would beef it up that much more.
With Walmartâ€™s new design, will it still be the RVerâ€™s friend?
We donâ€™t look to see airport-similar stacked parking garages replacing the acres of asphalt of today. We asked Walmart Corporate to comment on any changes that might mean less room for your RV. The company was kind enough to send us an automated reply, indicating theyâ€™d try to get back to us on the next business day. They didnâ€™t. But with all we could gather, we saw nothing about decreasing parking lot sizes or any changes in RV overnight policies.
After we finally reach a Walmart spokesperson and get a firm response, weâ€™ll let you know.