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Walmart's new omnichannel store. Walmart's new store in Tlalnepantla.

Walmart opens its first omnichannel store

New concept offers multi-channel customer experiences

Retail giant Walmart has opened its first omnichannel store in Mexico, offering customers the opportunity to buy its products in a variety of ways.

Located in Tlalnepantla, México state, the store features a drive-thru where online purchases can be picked up, free WiFi internet, self-checkout machines and digital catalogues that customers can browse through and use to order products that are not in stock.

The idea is to provide customers with multi-channel buying options and is seen as a means for Walmart to challenge dominant online retailer Amazon.

The vice-president of Walmart México told the newspaper El Economista that the store is not part of an experiment or trial but the start of a concept that will be rolled out more widely across the country.

“. . . It’s a new generation of stores. All our new stores, as well as ones we refurbish, will have this new concept . . . Sergio Guillin said.

“We will also equip existing stores with omnichannel capacity. The idea is for all our stores to be omnichannel, but it won’t be immediate. It will be done over the coming years. We already have 263 Walmart stores that are adapted to e-commerce, of which 100 offer home delivery,” he added.

Customers will be able to easily identify an omnichannel store because they will feature a large orange sign on their façade that says: “Compra en Línea, Recoge Aqui” (Buy on Line, Pick Up Here), Guillin explained.

Despite the increased emphasis on buying online, he stressed that the company would maintain its current number of employees but there will be some internal movement of staff based on the company’s needs.

“It’s about responding to consumers who are changing [and] adapting ourselves to them,” he said.

At the start of this month, the country’s largest retailer announced an annual investment of almost 20.9 billion pesos (US $1.1 billion) that will mainly be assigned to store refurbishments and maintenance as well as the opening of new stores and logistics.

The amount represents an almost 20% increase on its previous annual budget. Walmart México opened 79 new stores last year, most of them under the Aurrera, Aurrera Epress and Mi Bodega brands.

Another innovation the company is rolling out are mini-Walmart stores within its shopping complexes where there are high levels of foot traffic. Guillin said the rationale behind the Walmart tienditas, or little stores, is to help customers save time.

Source: El Economista (sp)

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