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BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- The latest supermarket from Wal-Mart has a new look and feel, new track lighting, a makeover in health & beauty, and abundance of freshly baked breads and fresh produce. Yesterday, Wal-Mart opened the newly designed Neighborhood Market in Tulsa, Okla., unveiling the fruit of its labors from several months of customer research and the prototype going forward for the 15 to 20 additional Neighborhood Markets it plans to open this year.
The 39,000-square-foot store is the first to open in the U.S. that will share a new design based on the customer research on Wal-Mart's Neighborhood Market concept. The company said it will be testing customer reaction and success of its new design, starting in Tulsa, as it focuses the brand for continued growth in the U.S.
With 112 stores already operating across the U.S., the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market is the company's youngest store concept (introduced less than 10 years ago). While Wal-Mart's stated goal for the concept is to provide consumers "the Wal-Mart value in a smaller, convenient 'neighborhood' store format, many industry watchers see it as a supermarket-comparable format, as it combines grocery, pharmacy, and health and beauty.
"Over the last several months we have studied our customers, seeking to understand their preferences about our store's convenience and products," said Pam Kohn, s.v.p. of the Wal-Mart Stores Southeast Division, and leader of Neighborhood Markets, in a statement. "The new design package is a great example of what we now know customers are seeking in this type of store."
The most dramatically noticeable changes, according to Wal-Mart, are within the new grocery and health and beauty areas. The product selection includes increased selections in organics and produce, while the grocery area features a new layout that highlights these changes. The bakery has a "warm" feel next to the new streamlined deli area, and fresh produce is placed along vertical fruit baskets. The redesigned deli offers rotisserie chicken and a variety of freshly prepared foods including sandwiches, salads, desserts, bottled drinks, milk, juices, waters, and energy drinks. There are also more freezer doors that hold additional frozen food items than any other Neighborhood Market store today.
Throughout the store, architects and designers added earth-toned colors with natural woods that define each store department that creates a "store within a store" feel, Wal-Mart said. Along with wood trim, photography highlights selections and departments in the store.
"Our health and beauty department has probably undergone the most dramatic change within the store," said Kohn. "We want our female customers to feel this is a place in their store created especially for them."
With concave (curved) fixtures, wider aisles, and new "towers" that can display the latest trends in health and beauty, the re-design is meant to create a more personal experience for the shopper, who may need time to study new products and consider their purchase. Signage and product placement work together to help customers better identify selections. The location has changed to be closer to the pharmacy and stationery departments.
The store also features 30-minute photo lab and a drive-through pharmacy with two drive-up lanes. It will be open to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week and will include six full-service and four self check-out lanes.