Walmart (NYSE: WMT) quietly opened its first Walmart to Go convenience store on March 15 in Bentonville, Ark. The concept store is another pilot for Walmart as it expands the number of small-format stores.
Walmart to Go offers the ease of a 7-Eleven but with fresh grocery and hot food offerings. Walmart partnered with Bentonville Butcher & Deli, which serves fresh-sliced meats, and Krispy Kreme, which has a donut stand inside the store.
Other amenities include a soda fountain, Icee fountain, a coffee and cappuccino station, and a refrigerated "food-to-go" area. Coolers line the outer walls of the store's interior offering wine, beer and frozen foods.
The new store comes on the heels of Walmart's Feb. 20 announcement it would be revving up expansion of small-format stores. The retailer announced plans to build 270 to 300 small stores in the next 12 months, doubling its initial forecast of 120 to 150.
Currently, Walmart operates Walmart Express, its smallest concept, with store sizes around 15,000 square feet. This unit has 20 stores, still in the pilot phase in three markets. The company also is testing several 2,500-square-foot, college-based convenience retail outlets called Walmart on Campus.
The Walmart to Go store builds on the retailer's grocery delivery service of the same name which launched in 2011, in San Jose and San Francisco. The program was expanded to Denver in October 2013. Shoppers can order fresh, dry and frozen groceries on Walmart.com as well as thousands of general merchandise items, including electronics and toys. The service now also allows shoppers to order online and have their groceries packed and ready for pick-up when they pull into the parking lot.
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