Inside Walmart Canada's new urban Supercentre concept

Date : 30 May 2019

Stewart Samuel

Program Director - Canada

Walmart Canada has unveiled a new look hypermarket format in Toronto. The Supercentre has been developed specifically for downtown locations, an area where the retailer is relatively under penetrated.

Second new concept to launch next year

The new look Supercenter has been developed within an existing location, at the Stockyards, Toronto. The store features a new design and layout, a broader range of third-party partnerships, new technology solutions and an updated product range. The retailer will launch a second Supercentre concept in the Thornhill neighbourhood next year. Best practices from both concepts will be introduced into existing stores as part of its remodelling programme.

Investing $200m in store remodels

With its store network having almost reached saturation point, the retailer has switched its focus to remodels as a growth driver. This year, the retailer will invest $200m in 31 Supercentre projects. Central to the work that is being undertaken across the entire network is placing a stronger emphasis on price and value, while also creating a more engaging non-food experience. This creates a point of difference versus other hypermarket and discount formats in Canada. Key elements of the new urban format include:

My Walmart app: customers can download the app to enable them to scan their own items and download digital coupons. The most visible element of this is, is a new “Fast Lane” for app users only. Once they are ready to check out, customers scan the barcode on their order, have the order charged to their credit card and show the receipt on their phone to the "Fast Lane" associate. This ensures a fast and easy checkout experience.

Source: Walmart Canada

Third-party licensees: Walmart is testing a range of third-party partners. Within this new concept they include Freshii, the Party Shop, The UPS store, MINISO and Naoki Sushi. An existing McDonald's has been renovated. These new partners have been selected to build appeal with younger shoppers and families.

Source: Walmart Canada

Dedicated online offer: the store features a dedicated section, where customers can see and shop for extended aisle products and speak with associates who can answer questions and assist with online orders. This area will also be used to host pop-up shops for online suppliers. The new prototype also features expanded and improved pickup areas for customer convenience both inside and outside the store.

Source: Walmart Canada

Community hub: the store features a seating section where customers can eat meals, sit down with friends and family and check out a community board featuring local news, activities and events.

Grocery offer: the grocery department has been renamed Fresh Market and has been redesigned to include more theatre lighting and wood panel wall treatment for a market look and feel.

Source: Walmart Canada

Family focus: the store features two dedicated nursing rooms, a redesigned toy section and the retailer’s only full-service Party Shop. The latter will help Walmart to compete more directly with Dollarama and Party City, both of which have developed strong credentials in the category. 

Source: Walmart Canada

Enhanced design and layout: several innovations from recent prototypes have been integrated into the urban concept, including improvements to product displays, signage and floor plans.

Source: Walmart Canada

Self-scanning push despite US switch to alternative programme

The upgrades to the food area represent a major change over recent concepts, creating a warmer and more distinctive department. These changes should also resonate beyond urban locations. The introduction of the “Fast Lane” is also an important development to watch. In the US, Walmart has tested and abandoned self-scanning on two different occasions, choosing to introduce a “Checkout with me” programme. This enables any associate enabled with a handheld device to check out shoppers on the spot.

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