Interest in e-commerce may be on the rise, but Walmart is looking to innovate the brick-and-mortar retail sector, albeit in a compact form.
The retail giant (NYSE: WMT) opened a new convenience store concept in Plano on Wednesday and similar stores are in the pipeline throughout the metroplex.
Walmart initially piloted this concept, which it's calling “Walmart Fuel Stations,” last year with two stores — one in Rogers, Arkansas, and one in the Fort Worth suburb of Crowley.
The Crowley store has been a success, said Anne Hatfield, Walmart's director of communications for Texas. On that basis, the retail giant expects to build three more North Texas stores from the ground up by the end of this year in Lake Worth, Arlington and The Colony.
“It is another way Walmart is offering our customers choice and convenience that save them time,” Hatfield said.
Walmart’s convenient store concept is still in the trial phrase, Hatfield added, saying, “we often test new services and concepts in DFW.”
“Dallas is a great market for us and a very important market,” she said.
The fuel station in Plano spans 2,900 square feet and has eight fuel pumps. The walk-in store features variety of deli items, snacks, fruits, lunch options, donuts, fountain drinks, beer and a coffee station.
All of these fuel stations will be located in the parking lots of Walmart Supercenters that previously did not have fuel pumps or smaller grab-and-go, vendor-type shops.
Apart from Dallas-Fort Worth, Walmart is also planning to open a fuel station in Ohio.
With more than $374 billion in retail sales, Walmart and its 5,328 national stores lead National Retail Federation’s 2018 list of top 100 retailers.
In its fourth-quarter 2018 earning release, Walmart reported a 4.4 percent growth in comparable sales over a two year period — its best performance in eight years.
Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN), however, is hot on its trail as it crosses $100 billion in sales with under 500 stores. The company shook up the retail sector when it bought Whole Foods Market last year.
And earlier this year, Amazon introduced Amazon Go, which enables checkout-free shopping in physical Amazon stores. Walmart discarded its own plan of similar app-based “Scan & Go" option because of low customer participation and lack of personal interaction.