- Walmart Canada has introduced a new "urban supercentre" concept store in Toronto, according to a company release. A second location will open in Thornhill, Ontario next year.
- A key feature of the prototype store will be Walmart's "Fast Lane" checkout, which allows customers to scan products with the My Walmart app as they shop and check out by scanning a barcode in the dedicated lane. Orders will be charged to the credit card a shopper has on file.
- The new Walmart will also include extended aisles in a Walmart.ca section and a remodeled grocery section called Fresh Market, which will include organic produce, 100% Canadian meat and seafood, and upgraded lighting and decor.
While this is not Walmart's first foray into scan-and-go, Walmart Canada's new Fast Lane more closely resembles Amazon Go technology than previous attempts. The effort is notable as the two retailers continue to battle each other for market share and customer acquisition.
Walmart previously tested its Scan & Go feature at 125 stores in the U.S., but scrapped the effort due to low customer participation and the fact that the technology couldn't scale the way the company wanted it to. But Walmart hasn't given up on speedy checkout. Some Walmart stores now offer a Check Out With Me feature that allows employees to process shopper payments with a mobile device. Walmart-owned Sam's Club still runs Scan & Go at most locations, and is currently testing an even faster version at Sam's Club Now in Dallas.
Customers are beginning to expect faster checkout options. According to a survey from PYMNTS, 95% of Americans have used at least one form of self-service retail and 49% use it on a weekly basis at their local grocery store. With self-service options becoming more common, customers are going to expect technology that's better, faster and easier.
Scan-and-go technology is in the test phase with numerous regional and national grocery retailers, and as of now, the offering is fairly uniform. Kroger launched its Scan, Bag, Go technology last year and has continued to roll it out to more stores. Meijer introduced Shop & Scan at 23 stores in Chicago and northwest Indiana in March, and Wegmans is piloting the technology at a single store in Rochester, New York.
Aside from technology, Walmart's revamped grocery offering at the Canadian supercenter reiterates the importance of food sales for the company. While e-commerce has been the key driver for Walmart's grocery business in recent quarters, the Fresh Market concept highlights the importance of brick-and-mortar grocery sales, too. Walmart has been updating its stateside stores with fresh food enhancements, as well.
Testing out new concepts in urban Toronto contrasts Walmart's efforts in the U.S., where Walmart avoids locating its supercenters in city centers. Paula Bonner, Walmart Canada's senior vice president of format development, told Retail Insider that the new store has been developed to resonate with young, millennial families living in urban areas. Walmart Canada has spent more than $1 billion in the last five years on remodels, with particular emphasis on rural and suburban stores.