9/26/2011 The Science of Shopping Everyday thousands of retail stores throughout the United States open up their stores in the morning for the sole purpose of attracting customers and selling them merchandise. For this assignment I decided to do a store analysis of the retail giant Wal-Mart. To begin with I will evaluate the store layout and design. Next I will explain the visual merchandising techniques used that Wal-Mart uses. Finally I will discuss the problems and recommendations that I have for Wal-Mart.
Wal-Mart has continually been a leader in the retail industry, and it all starts with the layout of the store. From the second that you pull into the Wal-Mart parking lot you are already faced with an important decision, which part of the store you want to enter. The entrance on the left positions you by the groceries, while the right entrance places you by the home goods and school supplies. Wal-Mart utilizes a few different types of layouts, the main layout is a racetrack layout, which provides major aisles that loop around the store and guides customer traffic around different departments within the store.
The grocery section of the Wal-Mart, which is on the left and takes up about a third of the store, has a grid layout. The Middle of the store is where Wal-Mart positioned its fashion and jewelry section. While this section fits within the overall race track layout of the store, the fashion/jewelry section has its own free form store layout. The electronics section is strategically located in the back middle of the store, since it is Wal-Marts most profitable section and it makes sure that their consumers have to navigate through the whole store and potentially browse other departments on their way to the electronics.
The toy section of the store is sandwiched between the kitchen and home goods and the lawn & garden, in hopes that children shopping with their parents will be able to wonder off to the toy section while they shop for home goods. At the front of the store is where they locate their checkout counters and other types of impulse buy items, such as “As seen on TV” items. While going to Wal-Mart might sometimes seem overwhelming, Wal-Mart does a good job of using visualizing techniques to attract customers to certain areas. Wal-Mart does a particularly good job of highlighting their merchandise.
Wal-Mart uses big florescent lights to eliminate the store, as well as using skylights in its stores to make shiny objects even shinier. Along with using the lighting to set the mood, Wal-Mart also uses warm and cool colors to promote a very positive and peaceful mood. Another thing I noticed while I was observing Wal-Mart was that they do not play any music throughout the store. To promote their environment and help keep customer attention, Wal-Mart employees carry walkie-talkies to communicate with each other, because they found out that customers thought the use of intercoms was a distraction.
Another thing I noticed about Wal-Mart was that there is no distinct scent in their stores. The sole purpose of a retail store is to try to get the customer to spend as much money as possible, and Wal-Mart is no different. Wal-Mart does an excellent job of using different types of merchandising presentation techniques in their store. At Wal-Mart they use many different types of fixtures to display their merchandise. In Wal-Marts grocery department, they primarily use gondolas to sell their merchandise, where as in the fashion and apparel section they used rounders, four-way racks, and strait racks.
Another technique Wal-Mart utilizes is their wall space through the use of vertical merchandising. Since Wal-Mart’s slogan is “Save Money. Live Better,” they also use tonnage merchandising to enhance and reinforce their pricing image. Wal-Mart not only takes advantage of their merchandising techniques, but they also utilize their feature areas. The feature areas at Wal-Mart are the grocery section, home goods, electronics, fashion/jewelry, lawn & garden, auto, and toys.
In all of these feature areas, Wal-Mart uses freestanding displays to attract their customers and draw them into that section. Another thing Wal-Mart uses is many of their departments are cash wraps. Most of these cash wraps tended to be things like batteries, gum, candy, and soda. With Wal-Mart being such a large store, many departments also have their own checkout counters that allow customers who are only looking for certain items to be able to get in and out. Wal-Mart also uses end caps on almost every aisle in the store.
These end caps are usually impulse buy items that are offering special promotional prices. Another thing that Wal-Mart does is that it shelves their items based on frequency. The most popular items or the items that most consumers buy will be located in the beginning of the aisle and at eye level, while other infrequent items are placed lower on the shelves and more towards the end of the aisle. To accurately keep track of what items need to be restocked or what items are selling the best, Wal-Mart uses a planogram.
The planogram they use utilizes SKU’s and will allow for employees to figure out exactly where everything goes and when it needs to be restocked. With Wal-Mart being the leader in retail stores, it is obvious that they must be doing something right. While I was unable to figure out the profitability of space, I was able to find out that their grocery section is the least profitable and that their electronics section is the most profitable. While Wal-Mart is very successful in almost everything they do, there are some areas where they could improve.
One area they could improve on is their checkout counters. Even though Wal-Mart has what seems like an endless row of checkout lines, not all of them are in service at once. I noticed that almost every checkout aisle had at least three people waiting in line. With the more people waiting in line, the longer it takes to check out. I noticed that the average checkout time at Wal-Mart was about five minutes per person. Another drawback of the checkout counters is the location of the twenty items or less speedy check out.
These were located by only one of the exit doors, and if you parked by the other exit you would either have to wait in one of the other lines or walk all the way across the store to get to your exit after you checked out. Overall, I feel that Wal-Mart does an excellent job of creating an atmosphere that would want to keep their customers coming back. Everyday thousands of customers walk through Wal-Mart’s doors for the sole purpose of buying merchandise, but how do they keep them coming back?
For this assignment I decided to do a store analysis of the retail giant Wal-Mart to get a better understand of what they do best. To begin with I evaluated the store layout and design. Then I explained the visual merchandising techniques used that Wal-Mart uses. Finally I discussed the problems and recommendations that I have for Wal-Mart. After performing the store analysis, it became apparent that Wal-Mart has spent a lot of time and effort on keeping customers satisfied and providing an excellent shopping atmosphere.
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