Wal-Mart, the world’s largest retailer, is considering a bid to appeal to the higher end of the retail market and is testing this new approach in a Texas supercentre. Wal-Mart has described the New Plano outlet as a “laboratory for exploring merchandise, store lay-out and customer service strategies”.

The store, which opened yesterday (22 March), has a number of unique features that, the company says, are a direct response to the shopping preferences of female customers – who make the majority of purchases.

“With the opening of this store, Wal-Mart is adopting an active approach to understanding and meeting customer needs, particularly those of the selective female shopper,” said John Fleming, executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “This store will function as an active laboratory for testing a range of new ideas and merchandise in a fully operational setting. If something doesn’t work, we will change it and try something else. And when an innovation resonates with our customers, we will consider introducing it in other stores.”

The supercentre will carry a significantly expanded and diversified grocery section, with more than 2,000 premium items in the dry grocery, meat, cheese, wine and produce sections.

The new store will also appeal to the premium convenience market with made-to-order sandwiches, hot Panini sandwiches and hot pizza. It will include a sushi bar and upmarket coffee shop. 

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Fleming said the store would offer a continuous learning experience for Wal-Mart: “Everything we do in this store will give us an opportunity to listen to our customers and deliver on our promise of constantly improving their shopping experience.”