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article imageWalmart will go to 'open market feel' for its produce aisles

By Karen Graham     Nov 20, 2019 in Business
Walmart Inc., wary of Amazon.com Inc.’s encroachment into the grocery space, is revamping the produce department in its U.S. stores.
Walmart's produce section is usually the first thing a customer sees when coming through the front door. Several years ago, in a move to focus on the quality of the items in the produce aisles, Walmart added more organic and locally grown foods.
Additional improvements at that time included upgrades to the quality and assortment of the products available. More lighting was added, along with better signing and specially angled fixtures to make shopping easier.
“We knew we were not meeting customers’ expectations for quality, so we went to work on that a few years ago,” Charles Redfield, Walmart’s Executive Vice President of U.S. Food, said in an interview. “Now that we’re comfortable with that, we’re ready to change the look and feel of the department.”
On Wednesday, Walmart announced it will renovate produce areas with new signs highlighting prices and shorter merchandise bins to create an "open market feel" for customers.
The renovations - dubbed “Produce 2.0,” will be in 800 Supercenters by the end of January and in about 3,000 stores, including smaller-format Neighborhood Markets, by the end of next summer, according to BNN Bloomberg.
As part of "Produce 2.0" upgrades, all of its organic items are being moved into a single area of the department to make them easier to find. To cut down on clogged aisles that occur with customers shopping and employees who pick up online grocery orders - the aisles are being widened.
Neighborhood Market produce department
Neighborhood Market produce department
© 2019 Walmart Inc.
Online grocery shopping has "fundamentally changed the way we operate our food business within the store," said Charles Redfield, executive vice president of food at Walmart's US business, reports CNN. "We've always got associates in the produce area. This layout created more space in the department to allow room for customers to shop."
Fresh produce is wanted
One thing about produce has never changed. Most people like to see and feel their selection when buying produce. Actually, 95 percent of us prefer to buy our produce in the store. This makes the produce section in most large grocery chains that much more important.
"It plays to big, overarching consumer trends in health and wellness," said Jon Springer, executive editor of Winsight Grocery Business, an industry trade publication.
And there is some stiff competition between the different grocery chains. German discount grocer Aldi expanded its produce and organic offerings in recent years, and Kroger's new slogan and advertisements, "Fresh for Everyone," emphasize its focus on fresh food.
Walmart has to keep pace with its competitors - after all, it has been in the grocery business since 1988. And even today, with its large superstores and the advent of online shopping, groceries still account for 56 percent of the company's more than $500 billion in revenue.
More about Walmart, Amazon, produce aisles, Redesign, Produce 20
 
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