Walmart Testing Another New C-store Concept

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — After a year of development, Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has taken the wraps off of its newest convenience store concept in Rogers, Ark.

The 2,500-square-foot fuel station and c-store combo features an expanded selection of food and drinks and is located at the entrance of a Walmart Supercenter, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette reported. The store replaces the previous kiosk at the existing fuel station, which was manned by one employee and offered a small selection of c-store staples like candy, chips and soft drinks.

With feedback from customers, the retail giant considered larger store formats over the past few years.

"Customers were asking us, 'Why don’t you offer more?'" Ramnik Narsey, senior vice president for Walmart’s U.S. fuel business.

The Rogers store is foodservice-centric, offering items like: a hot bar that features paninis, nachos, hot dogs and sausages; a soft-serve ice cream machine with multiple flavors; and pre-made sandwiches and salads. A walk-in cooler is kept stocked with domestic, imported and craft beer. Grocery staples are also available, including milk, eggs, frozen meals and pizzas.

The store is open from 5 a.m. to midnight daily, and the gas pumps operate 24 hours a day.

Narsey said Walmart hopes the variety will lead to more sales.  

"We'll do a little bit of fine-tuning as we go along and get feedback from customers about what they like, what they think we could do better," Narsey commented. "But I think this is about the comfortable size."

It’s not unusual for Walmart to test smaller-store formats. In 2011, the Bentonville-based retailer began piloting its smallest format stores, Walmart Express. Last year, the retailer pulled the plug on 102 of these locations, saying it was focusing on strengthening its Supercenters, optimizing Neighborhood Markets, growing its e-commerce business and expanding Pickup services for customers, CSNews Online previously reported.

The retailer also began testing its Walmart Pickup with Fuel in Huntsville, Ala., and Thornton, Colo., in 2016. Walmart Pickup with Fuel boasts 4,000 square feet and offers gas pumps and traditional c-store fare at Walmart prices, with the addition of a dedicated drive-thru for pickup grocery orders placed through Walmart's online grocery service.

"We're trying that as a combination," Narsey said. "Again, it's all about convenience."

After testing a handful of convenience options in addition to kiosks, Narsey said Walmart believes it has found a good fit with its latest pilot, the news outlet reported.

Walmart has also opened another c-store of its newest concept in Crowley, Texas. 

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