Urban store strategy: Fitting in with city life
Looking to import the Walmart experience to customers in urban areas, in January 2012 we opened our first Urban 90 store in Canada at our Scarborough locale – designed to deliver the one-stop shopping range of a supercentre in only half the footprint.
Recognizing the importance of the urban market to grow our future business, we are actively exploring new ways to design, build and test store prototypes which succeed on a smaller urban scale. The average Walmart supercentre is approximately 130,000 sq. ft. while a new-generation urban store is only 90,000 sq. ft. (i.e. the Urban 90).
With each new generation of store design, we are evolving and refining our designs. In an urban environment, the best design solutions are often the most practical too. For example, parking is always an issue in the city and we’ve tested out numerous approaches to create sufficient parking in a smaller urban lot size.
Our first approach was to build parking at grade, followed by designing a lot underneath the store. Neither was satisfactory and we have now progressed to testing a fully stilted store with a series of stacked levels. Now with the parking at grade and the sales floor above, we can organize the space in the most efficient possible way.
Launching the Urban 90 prototype store
Built on the site of a former car dealership, the Scarborough store is our first Urban 90 store in Canada. It features our first use of the ‘stilted’ building design with the effect of creating a more compact, multi-level shopping experience. Working closely with the developer and municipality, we were able to open the store within a tight timeframe of two years because we designed the prototype store to suit the site.
We also studied the neighbourhood itself to learn more about our customers through an in-depth analysis from our Store of the Community (SOTC) team. The store is set in a highly populated residential neighbourhood with over 38,000 people living within one mile. Many customers reside in apartments with less storage space while on the other end of the spectrum, multiple generations of the same family are living under one roof. These were all factors that influenced our merchandising choices, store layout and design.