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Whether you stop by your local Target or nearby Walmart in the near future, things might look different. Both retailers are undertaking substantial store redesign initiatives. And while the strategies they are embracing differ somewhat, their ultimate goals are the same: to get shoppers to visit more often, stay longer, and buy more stuff.

At Walmart, while still promising to maintain its low price positioning, the retailer hopes to give customers a more inspiring, aspirational setting, by adding more bright colors and enhanced lighting, mannequins showing off current styles, and even full-room displays on the sales floor that show shoppers how to put together a room. With these redesigned elements, a key goal for Walmart is to shift more of its sales away from solely low margin groceries and toward items that provide higher margins, like décor, baby supplies, and clothing and accessories.

Although the redesign so far has been applied only to about a half-dozen stores, and Walmart has not confirmed how many stores ultimately will receive similar facelifts, its broader merchandising approach has been heading in this direction. Across all its stores, Walmart has been calling on store managers and workers to devote more effort to keeping displays tidy and uncluttered. It also has added a few more well-known national brands, like Levi Strauss, and introduced some private-label offerings with input from celebrities like Drew Barrymore.

As many observers have noted, these moves all seem to signal that Walmart is trying to be a little more like Target: bright colors, fashionable offerings, collaborations with famous names. But in the meantime, Target is pursuing its own redesign, heading in a slightly different direction. Specifically, it is opening massive stores, of 150,000 square feet or more, with backroom storage that is approximately five times larger than a conventional Target store houses. With these massive locations, Target hopes to improve its same-day delivery capacity, to get products quickly and efficiently to customers’ homes by moving them directly from the local retail store to their doorsteps.

But the front of the stores also are bigger and, perhaps even more important, more open in their design. The spacious and well-lit layouts promise to integrate more natural materials and live plants, ideally encouraging greater relaxation and enjoyment to convince willing shoppers to linger longer and browse through the aisles more leisurely. Target also promises that more stores will provide electric vehicle charging ports in the parking lots.

Discussion Questions:

  1. What are some pros and cons of Walmart’s redesign, which seemingly brings it more in line with Target?
  2. What are some pros and cons of Target’s redesign, which prioritizes extremely large store footprints?

Sources: Walter Loeb, “Target Unveils New Store Strategy and Store Design,” Forbes, November 21, 2022; Melissa Repko, “Bright Lights and Snazzy Mannequins: Walmart Rolls Out Sleek New Store Designs,” CNBC, January 28, 2023

Photo from iStock.com/Bigmouse108