Testing success, Walmart recently opened its first convenience store in its home town of Bentonville, Arkansas. Clearly it is not something that they wanted to do. However, Sainsbury, Morrison’s, Tesco, Carrefour the worlds other large retailers have tested, retested and found success. So much so that Walmart entered the C-store ring.
Convenience stores have proven brand positive, customer edifying, and profitable for leading legacy grocery retailers. I have no doubt that it will be profitable, creating incremental brand value for Walmart. It’s a logical progression for Walmart, in terms of demographics, the supply chain, and footprint size, according to Foodservice Solutions® Grocerant Guru Steven Johnson.
Johnson calls it “a classic spoke-N-hub retail operation,” with different store formats catering to customers with different goals and motivations. C-stores would give Walmart the potential to increase the frequency of shoppers’ visits and appeal more to the 50 percent of the U.S. population over the age of 18 that are single.
“Single people don’t go to a Walmart so they can walk around for 40 minutes and buy stuff,” Johnson says. “They don’t have time for that. They don’t need that many items or groceries, and the carts are so damn big, how much can one person need?” Remember the U.S. Census reports that 50% of U.S. residents over the age of 18 are single. Incrementally this is a huge opportunity for Walmart.
Singles are time starved, on-the go and don’t want to shop and buy 14 pork shops or 14 chicken breast at a time, don’t want to cook for one, nor do they want to do dishes. Walmart’s focus within the c-store is “Quick Meals,” “Drinks To Go,” which happens to be demographically on-target.
Walmart To Go is the same name that Walmart is using for its online home delivery service. What if Walmart started using c-stores as pickup points for online orders? Sainsbury, Morrison’s, Tesco, Carrefour all found success in the c-store niche, Walmart leveraging on-line pickup could slow Amazon Fresh and Amazon Spotlight driving additional success.
Ready-2-Eat and Heat-N-Eat fresh prepared food had become a disruptive element driving change in restaurants, grocery stores and retail drug stores. If success does leave clues watch for Walmart to open additional C-stores in California, Oregon and Washington next.
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