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Walmart in Focus Again: Unveils Florida Store Remodel Plans

Zacks

While Walmart Inc.’s WMT progress in the e-commerce realm has been talked about for some time, the company has not neglected its brick-and-mortar business. This is evident from its latest announcement to open and remodel 43 stores in Florida. These new and upgraded stores will be equipped with advanced in-store and digital innovations.

Many retailers consider the modern tech-savvy era as bad omen for brick-and-mortar stores. On the flip side, few players like Walmart, perceive this as an opportunity to drive omnichannel sales. Physical stores have become a key link to drive online shopping, courtesy of strategies like in-store pickups. Such hi-tech augmentation efforts will empower traditional stores and strengthen their position in the retail space.

Well, Walmart’s latest move to expand its store base in Florida, indicates the company’s dedication toward evolving traditional stores as a vital part of omnichannel sales, helping consumers to shop with ease. That said, lets delve into the latest plans the company has spun for its Florida stores.

Plans to Fortify Stores

Walmart plans to spend around $200 million in Florida to augment its stores, as part of the company’s budgeted investments of $11.0 billion for business development in fiscal 2019. It plans to open six stores in Central Florida, Jacksonville and Miami-Fort Lauderdale. Also, it plans to remodel 37 stores in several regions of Florida. Apart from these, the company intends to open a new distribution center in the City of Cocoa.

Further, Walmart’s store development plans in the state include rolling out its Grocery Pickup services to another 80 stores. Such services currently exist in close to 100 stores in the region. Further, the company’s Mobile Express Scan & Go facility was recently launched across 10 Walmart stores in Florida. Additionally, this service is available at 49 Sam’s Club stores in the region.

Moving further on these lines, Walmart’s Pickup Towers have been gaining traction lately, as it makes online delivery system smarter by saving time and costs for the company as well as consumers. The facility is available in 15 stores across Florida. Walmart plans to continue to explore opportunities in the region to expand the same.



Seamless Deliveries is the Latest Mantra

Clearly, Walmart has been quite receptive to consumers’ preference for online shopping. In fact, the company’s Florida store augmentation efforts bear testimony to the fact that it is actively undertaking efforts to incorporate stores with digitalization trends and create diverse shopping experiences. By integrating physical stores with online shopping, Walmart has been able to improve its delivery services.

Earlier this week itself, the supermarket giant inked a deal with Postmates to extend its online grocery delivery service to cover more than 40% of the families in the United States. In earlier developments, Walmart’s Sam’s Club stores partnered with Instacart for providing same-day delivery services and improve sales of food products and everyday essentials. Also, the company acquired a delivery startup — Parcel, Inc. — which is a last-mile delivery service and specializes in same-day delivery for perishable and non-perishable products. Other than this, the company tested same day deliveries with Deliv, while it also partnered with ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft for speedy online grocery deliveries. .

Notably, such well-chalked endeavors to enhance store and e-commerce traffic have been aiding comparable store sales (comps) growth. Incidentally, the company’s U.S. comps (excluding fuel) rose 2.6% during fourth-quarter fiscal 2018, which marked its 14th consecutive quarter of growth. We believe that such store augmentation efforts in Florida will contribute to the company’s robust comps trend.

Wrapping it up, we believe Walmart’s efforts will fortify its presence in the rapidly evolving retail space and compete better with industry behemoth Amazon AMZN. Like Walmart, companies such as Target TGT and Kroger KR, have been undertaking several initiatives to improve delivery services. This indicates that companies are rapidly transforming their operating models to suit the needs of consumers’ tech-driven lifestyle.

Coming back to Walmart, this Zacks Rank #3 (Buy) company’s strategies to continue augmenting its business and operations have been raising investor’s optimism. Shares of the company have soared almost 16.8% over the past year, compared with the industry’s rally of 12.8%.

You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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