retail news in context, analysis with attitude

CNBC reports that Walmart is converting four of its stores - two near its Arkansas headquarters and two still to be disclosed - "into laboratories that test ways to turn the retailer’s huge physical footprint into a more powerful edge for e-commerce … the stores and their employees will try out approaches that better blend the brick-and-mortar and digital sides of the business and improve the experience for customers."

The story says that "for this new effort, employees will use digital tools, store design features and different strategies that could speed up restocking shelves and fulfilling online orders. They will test an app that uses artificial intelligence to scan multiple boxes in the back room rather than one at a time as they move them to the store floor. They will use new store signage and handheld devices to cut down the time it takes to pick an online order. And product and technology teams will be based at the stores to accelerate the pace of prototyping."

Walmart also said that "it will tinker with the checkout area … testing designs, hardware and software that make customers’ purchases faster, easier and more contact-free."

KC's View:

This ties right back into the observation I made about malls in my FaceTime video this morning.

If you look around your store and see elements that would seem entirely in place in a 20th century supermarket, it is time to do a deep dive and see how they might be made more relevant to a 21st century consumer.

I'm not saying that every part of the store experience has to be changed, but I am saying that every component of the store has to be reconsidered.

Think about how your own life has changed in the past 20 years - of the things that technology allows you to do, of the information you have at your fingertips, of the knowledge you have and the ways in which you've been empowered.  Has your store kept pace?  Are you thinking about it daily?

And then … though this may make your head explode … go through the same exercise thinking about how your life has been changed by the crapshow that has been 2020.