Walmart unveils redesigned 'omnichannel' stores

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Walmart is expanding the contactless payment options in its stores as part of a new design that aims to blur the online and in-store shopping experience.

The omnichannel store concept is rolling out across Walmart stores this fall after a test, Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s executive vice president and chief customer officer, said in a Wednesday blog post.

The announcement comes a few weeks after the launch of Walmart+, a membership that offers gasoline discounts, free online delivery and access to Walmart’s mobile Scan & Go service, which enables consumers to skip the checkout line by manually scanning items with Walmart’s app as they shop.

Contrasting Walmart’s moves in recent weeks with Amazon, there are some overlaps and some disconnects.

Walmart+ is more affordable than Amazon Prime. It costs $98 a year, or $12.95 a month for Walmart+ versus $119 a year for Amazon Prime, and Walmart shoppers get fuel discounts.

But unlike Amazon Prime, Walmart requires members to spend at least $35 per order to get free grocery deliveries.

Walmart also requires membership to use its Scan & Go feature, which Kroger Co. offered to all customers for free when it launched last year (Kroger discontinued the service when coronavirus struck, since it didn't want customers risking infection by handling its separate scanners).

Walmart's new store design is the culmination of a step-by-step transformation Walmart has been investing in heavily since its $3 billion purchase of e-commerce giant in 2016.

The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer introduced a delivery service in 2018, and earlier this year it consolidated its online and in-store shopping apps so consumers can begin a shopping trip whether they’re at home or in the store.

By the end of this year, the redesign will extend to 200 large Walmart stores, with plans to reach close to 1,000 stores next year, Whiteside said.

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