Is Walmart On Speedway And Kolb Open? [Expert Guide!]

This year has been one of monumental changes in the retail landscape. Between the pandemic, changing consumer habits and store design, it’s been a tough 12 months for retailers. In fact, the same store that was bustling with shoppers just a few months ago is now closed due to the pandemic.

But while some stores closed down completely, others decided to fight back and re-open. One of these stores is Walmart, which recently reopened its stores in California, Illinois, and Michigan after achieving local health mandates. This decision came with a hefty price tag—the company spent roughly $27 billion on its expansion plan and remodeling. But will these investments pay off? Is Walmart on the right track or should the company have walked away?

To understand Walmart’s latest move, it’s important to examine the company’s past. We’ll take a look at how Walmart stores operated in the past, what has changed, and whether or not these changes are for the better.

A Tale of Two Walmarts

When Walmart first opened the doors to its first California store back in 1995, it was a revolution. At the time, it was the country’s largest retailer—and it still holds that title today—and it completely transformed the way we think about and shop at retail stores. It was the first to implement a model that integrated shopping and entertainment, offering customers a relaxing, comfortable, and convenient environment in which to browse and spend their time.

This unique approach to retail opened the doors to a whole new world for Walmart. The company grew at an astounding pace throughout the ’90s as more and more people fell in love with its unique brand of convenience and customer care. The retail model that it pioneered is now commonplace and many of its competitors have adopted similar practices. It’s the reason that today, when you walk into a Walmart, you’ll see customers lined up at the register waiting to be served.

The Rise Of The Supercenter

Innovative and pioneering as it was, Walmart was nonetheless constrained by the limits of its early 20th century technology. Its point-of-sale systems were sophisticated but prone to breakdown, and its warehouses were limited in size due to government restrictions on truck width. These constraints made it difficult to keep up with demand while expanding at the same time.

But then, the company hit on an idea that turned out to be a stroke of genius. Rather than trying to keep everything in-house, it decided to outsource as much as it could to independent contractors. This turned out to be one of the best decisions that Walmart ever made. By contracting out its non-core functions, it freed up valuable resources that it could then invest in growth. It also meant that if something went wrong, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Walmart would simply revert to its original plan and draw upon its other stores to get the job done. And indeed, things went wrong. In 2001, a firestorm of epic proportion swept through a Walmart in Miami, Florida, leaving over a million and a half dollars worth of merchandise undelivered and unloved. The resulting backlash from the incident was swift and profound. Thousands lined up outside the store protesting the company’s environmental record. The incident put a big dent in Walmart’s image. It was a low point for the company, but a turning point as well. From that point forward, Walmart reinvented itself as a more forward-thinking and consumer-centric company. Its focus changed from being a low-cost provider to being a full-service retailer.

A Shift Toward Community

Over the last decade, Walmart has continued to evolve. It has shifted its strategy toward a model that is completely based upon communities. The company not only looked to the cities and towns in which it operates, but out into the surrounding areas as well. It became interested in investing in local infrastructure and helping to better the communities in which it operated. In some cases, these investments were clearly philanthropic in nature. In other instances, it was a way for Walmart to cement ties with the communities in which it operated.

And what has this shift wrought? Aside from the obvious changes on the surface, such as new store designs and reopened stores, the way that customers interact with the company and its employees has changed as well. Supercenters, for example, are designed with a communal table where customers can meet and mingle. It’s a place for individuals to come together and share stories while picking out their weekly supplies. In a time where loneliness is at an all-time high and people are craving connection, Walmart is responding by creating these social spaces inside its stores.

Emerging Trends

The world of retail is ever-evolving, and fast. It’s important to keep in mind that while some of these changes may be positive, others may not be. It’s a matter of judgment and a case-by-case basis as to whether or not these changes usher in a new era of retail excellence.

One major trend that Walmart is capitalizing upon is the rise of e-commerce. It’s estimated that online shopping will hit $270 billion by next year. While this figure doesn’t encompass all retail, it does represent a very large portion of all economic activity. This trend has been fueled by the fact that many consumers have lost their love for the malls and the anxiety that COVID-19 has produced. People want what they can get online quickly and easily without leaving their homes.

As a result, many major retailers have shifted their strategy toward online retail and have put in place huge efforts to make their online stores as good as their physical counterparts. They know that this is where the bulk of their business—and their customers—will reside in the future. As Walmart continues to close stores and invest in online endeavors, it’s clear that this is a company that is adapting and evolving to fit the times in which we live in. The question is, will this be for the better?

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