Walmart this week opened its first small format convenience store branded as Walmart To Go in its hometown of Bentonville.
The concept offers a familiar blend of convenience store products, prepared foods and gasoline and is not to be confused with Walmart’s other small format concept known as Walmart Express. The Express format measures about 15,000-sq.-ft. and also appeals to convenience minded shoppers with gas, a pharmacy and fresh food offerings. The Walmart To Go store bears the same name as a home delivery grocery service the company launched three years ago in San Francisco and expanded to Denver last year.
The Walmart To Go store is located at the heavily trafficked intersection of South Walton Boulevard and S.W. 14th Street less than a half mile south of Walmart’s headquarters. The heavily trafficked intersection is well suited to a convenience store format with easy ingress and egress. However, as retail tests go Walmart won’t get a true read on the viability of the concept until it is exposed to competition in a market where the shopper base is not distorted by those work work for or sell products to Walmart. The proximity to the retailer’s headquarter ensures that a large percentage of those visiting the store will have some type of Walmart affiliation. Also of noted is the fact that the most meaningful competition for Walmart To Go will come from other Walmart formats. A Walmart supercenter with a gas station is located adjacent to Walmart’s headquarters and a 45,000-sq.-ft. Neighborhood Market store, which is also designed to satisfy shoppers’ convenience needs, opened last year and is less than a mile from the new Walmart To Go.