A Look Inside Walmart's Next-Gen Test Stores

The world is navigating a cultural revolution into the digital age.

Meeting customers’ needs is critical as they adopt more digitally-driven lifestyles, expectations increase and increasingly shopping options do not require a trip inside a store.

With this in mind, Walmart is testing new approaches in two recently opened supercenters in Tomball, Texas, and Lake Nona, Florida. These stores were fully reimagined from a new layout to building and environmental enhancements to added technology that all improve the shopping experience.

Keep reading to learn more about these new retail environments. Or, if you’re in the area, drop by and look for yourself.

New Layout
We started with customer shopping behavior to reimagine the layout for these two stores. For example, services like the beauty salon and tech repair are adjacent to relevant merchandise. Health and wellness departments are consolidated to create a single destination. Baby, toys, kids' apparel and kids' shoes form a single destination to ease mom’s shopping journey.

Scan & Go
Speeding up checkout is critical to improving customer experience. So we’re testing Scan & Go technology that works both on personal smartphones and Walmart-provided handheld devices. Customers are greeted on their way into the store by a large bank of these Scan & Go wands, and new digital produce scales have been added to make scanning weighable items much easier. The Scan & Go fast pass checkout lanes allow customers to bypass the traditional checkout process, which makes a quick trip faster than ever.

New interactive projection technology allows customers to learn about connected devices (think Google Home, Apple TV, Nest, baby monitors and connected thermostats) and get answers to what is important to them. Since images are projected onto tables and walls, there’s no chance of accidentally damaging a product, and the product details can be updated more quickly through this new platform. This technology is found in the entertainment section of the store, as well as in hardware, baby, and health and wellness for relevant department items.

Integrated Pickup
Shoppers can use the outside drive-thru to pick up not just their weekly groceries, but also their prescriptions and orders.

Extended Aisles
Step into the Tomball Supercenter and you’ll find interactive screens offering access to an extended curated selection of online-only items in almost 100 categories. Customers can order products, pay with the rest of their basket at checkout and pick up two days later.

Appointment Setting and Ordering Technology
Need your deli order, fast? These stores test a new appointment and ordering kiosk system where you place your order, go shopping, then come back to quickly pick it up. If the initial test in the deli area goes well, it could be expanded to pharmacy, Auto Care Center, beauty salon or anywhere ordering and appointment setting occurs.

Next-Gen Call Buttons
Shoppers simply press a Wi-Fi-connected call button and wearable GPS-enabled devices alert associates that assistance is needed. Associates wearing these devices are trained in specific store areas and are on call to help in the furniture, paint, fabrics, sporting goods and bikes areas of the store.

So what’s the bottom line? By rethinking stores and testing new ideas with customers in real-life stores, we are improving customers’ experiences and making it easier than ever for them to get what they need as quickly and easily as possible.

Editor’s Note: You can learn more about Walmart’s in-store tests in this piece from Good Morning America.


Health & Wellness

New Digital Health Tools Transforming Diabetes Self-Care

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports there are more than 30 million in the U.S. living with diabetes. That’s 1 in 11 Americans.

Perhaps even more alarming: Out of the 84 million who have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, 90% don’t know they have it. It’s a growing epidemic with a devastating physical, emotional and financial toll on our communities. And it’s because of this, there’s an ever increasing focus on diabetes prevention, treatment and education.

At one of our nationwide Wellness Day Clinics last month an individual discovered his blood glucose level was a life-threatening 530. An onsite nurse explained the consequences of the test result and he immediately went to a nearby urgent care clinic to initiate care. It is rewarding to think the work we do at Walmart can help people live healthier and even save lives in some cases.

Perhaps most critical for diabetic patients, however, is access to affordable supplies. That’s why I’m excited about our exclusive line of important, everyday essentials. From meters to test strips and insulin, patients are able to save considerably on the items they need most. Because they can afford to test more regularly, this means our patients can better manage their care, and ultimately, lead healthier lives.

Recently, we expanded our line of ReliOn diabetic supplies to include the $18.98 ReliOn Premier BLU blood glucose monitoring system. It features Bluetooth technology that connects the meter to an app on your iOS/Android smartphone, eliminating the need for paper logbooks. With a couple of taps, you can also share your results with your care provider. $14.98 ReliOn Premier Voice is a bilingual (English and Spanish) blood glucose monitoring system that provides audible testing results and is excellent for the blind and low vision diabetic patient. Both of these tools capture clinical data and offer analytics, providing patients with actionable feedback. Most importantly, you don’t have to sacrifice quality for price. All ReliOn blood glucose monitoring systems meet the same strict FDA accuracy standards as the more expensive brands.

The health and safety of our patients is a critical priority, and I love sharing how our team is helping to make a difference in the communities we serve by actively helping them identify and manage their diabetes. Whether it’s through advanced technology, affordable everyday necessities, healthy food, even fitness gear, Walmart is a one-stop-shop for diabetes management. I’m proud of that.

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Knock, Knock … Who’s There? Your Walmart Grocery Delivery

It’s 10 a.m., and it already feels like a long day. You know your schedule is only going to get busier. How will you get dinner on the table if you don’t have time to stop for groceries?

We have a new answer for you: Don’t worry. Keep doing what you’re doing. We can deliver those groceries to your front door.

By the end of the year, this option will be a reality for more than 40% of U.S. households. Online grocery delivery, previously a test project in six metro areas, will soon be a service we’ll offer across 100 metro areas. We’ll be using more than 800 of our stores to fulfill orders. That’s an impressive number, but it’s more about where you deliver to than where you deliver from – millions of customers will now have access to this time-saver.

Here’s how it works:

  1. To order, customers visit or go to the existing Walmart Grocery app to build an online basket and place an order, selecting the most convenient time for the order to be delivered.
  2. That’s when one of our 18,000 personal shoppers gets to work. Based on the delivery time, he or she will begin picking items, scanning them along the way to ensure an accurate and complete order. (By the way, we’ve given these associates special training to pick the best of the best for your order, especially when it comes to fresh meat and produce.)
  3. Finally, our team will request a delivery service to come to the store, pick up customers’ orders, and take them directly to their desired location.

We’re excited about this new offering, which is simply the latest result of our ongoing work to help make shopping easier. Whether it’s ordering one item online and picking it up the same day in our stores, pulling your car into our parking lot to collect a grocery pickup order, or now ordering – and receiving – groceries at your convenience, you’ve now got so many choices to fit your needs. We’re learning from Walmart teams across the globe and building on the best parts of our business to help put some time back on your calendar. Through technology, great stores and our awesome team of associates, we’re working hard to serve you whenever and however you want.

I love being part of a team that’s constantly thinking about how to bring out the best of Walmart. It’s even better that, for a lot of our customers, this news means we’re now bringing it literally to your door.



Put a Pin on It: The Tiny Tokens Embodying Walmart Pride

There’s a certain sense of pride that comes from graduating – whether it’s from high school or college, it’s a familiar experience for many.

You can see that very same pride in Walmart Academy graduates as they walk across a stage and are recognized for their dedication. They’ve not only set aside time to learn the best ways to serve their customers – they’ve taken advantage of an opportunity that can help set them on a clear path.

Ayreann Luedders, a senior director with the Walmart Academy program, gets to see the graduates’ transformation first hand. “When my team gets to the locations to help set up for graduation, at first the associates don’t know what to expect,” Ayreann said. “By the end they realize, ‘oh, this is a big deal,’ and you can see it on their faces. They are just so proud of what they’ve accomplished.”

To celebrate these achievements, each Academy location’s inaugural graduating class designs a pin that’s given to each graduating class thereafter. They commemorate everything from specific events to individual stores and their communities to pieces of Walmart’s past.

Here’s a look at a few of these pins and the stories behind them.

Pontotoc, Mississippi
This Academy graduation’s theme was all about Walmart history, from serving MoonPies (Sam Walton’s favorite volume producing item) to the regional manager dancing in a hula skirt like Sam once did on Wall Street. This pin shows the Walton’s 5 & 10 as a symbol of where we started, and the words “Pathway to the Future” to show where their training will take them.

St. Petersburg, Florida
With this store just steps from the beach, this pin features the Florida shoreline and the Sunshine Skyway Bridge. This group’s graduation ceremony even included a massive sandcastle at the front of their store.

Friendswood, Texas
You might find a rocket scientist at this store – it’s less than 10 miles from NASA’s Johnson Space Center. To show off their unique location, they decided to use a space shuttle orbiting the Earth within the shape of Texas.

Tracy, California
The elements on this pin showcase the history of their community. The triangle shape refers to Tracy’s location inside the three interstates that border the city, and the bear is a nod to their state flag. The train represents their more than century-long history as a major railway hub.

Edmond, Oklahoma
What makes this pin special is that it comes from the 100th Academy Walmart opened. To commemorate that milestone, CEO Doug McMillon came to speak, making it even more special for the graduates.

Dulles, Virginia
Using a simple backdrop of Virginia’s state flower, this pin represents a store that is anything but ordinary. It serves a diverse community, and over 80 native languages are spoken by our associates there.

“It was through the graduation ceremonies that I had this epiphany moment that we’re changing lives in what we’re doing through Walmart Academy,” said Tina Kurtz, a director with the Walmart Academy program. “It gave them an entirely new perspective on their jobs – understanding how doing things a certain way helps. It’s meaningful, life-changing work.”

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Eden: The Tech That’s Bringing Fresher Groceries to You

What’s for dinner tonight?

No matter the answer, there are some givens: It has to taste good, be good for you, and be affordable. But when you’re shopping with limited time, how can you be sure you’re buying the freshest apples, milk that will last, or perfectly ripe bananas?

We think our new intelligent food system called Eden can help. Developed in just six months by our own associates, it is improving the quality and flow of fresh groceries from farm to shelf.

Eden is the result of a friendly competition, or hackathon, among the engineers on our fresh merchandising teams. Our goal was to figure out the best way to keep track of food freshness all the way from the farms to our stores. The winning team determined that building a digital library of food standards was the answer. So they gathered the many chapters of food product specifications set by the USDA, layered on Walmart’s own rigorous product standards, and combined all of this information with more than a million photos to create a freshness algorithm that prioritizes the flow of perishable goods worldwide.

As a result, Josh Bohling, senior designer of associate experience design, and I have filed two patents for Walmart, and Eden is now the cornerstone of Walmart’s move to improve the quality of fresh produce for sale to our customers.

Eden leverages sophisticated technologies such as machine learning, but we’ve made it simple enough for all of our associates to use. Eden’s suite of apps helps Walmart associates better monitor and care for fresh fruits and vegetables that are waiting to be shipped from distribution centers to stores. That could mean more efficiently ripening bananas, predicting the shelf life of tomatoes while they’re still on the vine, or prioritizing the flow of green grocery items from the back of the store to the shelf.

For example, take everybody’s favorite, the banana. This tasty fruit is consistently among the best-selling grocery items in Walmart’s U.S. stores. Bananas travel from seven countries in Latin America to over 4,000 stores in the U.S. On such a long road, what happens to those bananas if temperatures in the container trucks exceed acceptable ranges? In the future, Eden will be able to recalculate the freshness factor and re-route the shipment immediately. The bananas end up in a closer store to optimize freshness, consumers take home a delicious bunch, and everyone is happy.

Eden also helps eliminate food waste. Our goal is to eliminate $2 billion in waste over the next five years. Already, Eden is being used in 43 distribution centers and has prevented $86 million in waste from happening.

What was once a manual inspection process is now more efficient and thorough than ever. We’re proud to say that we’re the very first retailer who has digitized this entire process. Thanks to the power of technology, we’re able to bring you and your loved ones the freshest food, even faster.