Walmart tests a shrunken Sam’s Club concept

Walmart is to test a new Sam’s Club concept which is less than a quarter the size of the current model.

Stewart Samuel, program director at IGD Canada, says a typical Sam’s Club outlet in North America is 134,000sqft. But the new store opening in Dallas is just 32,000sqft.

“This will be a new test format for Sam’s Club which will help it to further innovate and improve the member experience,” says Samuel, who shapes IGD’s research program across North America.

“Offering a convenient shopping experience will be a key driver underpinning the format’s development. The retailer will focus on delivering a more digital-led experience, including fast membership sign-up, easy returns, checkout using Scan & Go and digital signage.”

The new Sam’s Club concept will offer a tailored, locally-relevant assortment of between 1000 and 2000 items, including grocery and fresh foods, grab-and-go meals and frequently purchased consumable goods.

While the test format will be radically different to the core Sam’s Club offer, it could provide Walmart with a new route to future club growth, particularly as e-commerce continues to become a larger part of the club model.

“This has been a priority focus for the retailer, with its established Club Pickup model augmented by the launch of home delivery via Instacart earlier this year. In January, the retailer announced that it was closing 63 clubs, with around 10 of them earmarked for conversion into e-commerce fulfillment centres,” said Samuel.

The format could also provide Walmart with new ideas to enhance its hypermarket model.

“While the retailer has launched several initiatives as part of its ‘Supercenter of the future’ project, these have been within its existing store footprint. Sam’s Club has been an important incubator for new ideas at Walmart over recent years, so success with this new format could lead to a similar test for its core hypermarket format.”

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