MANVILLE, N.J. — Wal-Mart Stores Inc.’s recently renovated store in Manville, N.J. was converted into a Supercenter to fulfill the need for groceries, but the retailer hasn’t overlooked shoppers’ appetite for beauty.
The 125,000-square-foot store exemplifies the ongoing tweaking Wal-Mart is giving its latest beauty planograms. The store exhibits ongoing upgrades of the decor unveiled in early 2013 when Jody Pinson assumed vice president of merchandising for beauty.
The store, which opened last week, was part of a two-punch attack on the central New Jersey market still surprisingly underserved by the Wal-Mart Supercenter concept. The other unit was a 148,000-square-footer in East Brunswick.
The beauty departments in the new units prove Wal-Mart remains competitive against not only other mass competitors, but drugstores and dollar stores, too.
From a physical standpoint, Wal-Mart added LED lighting to the entire cosmetics department. Wal-Mart’s latest fixtures are lower than some of its older displays and offer a huge assortment including its exclusive line by Drew Barrymore, Flower Beauty, as well as Cover Girl, Revlon, Maybelline, L’Oréal, E.l.f., Rimmel London and another exclusive, Hard Candy.
There’s an obvious effort to keep the value-price message and to clean up the floor by reducing the number of sales pallets and displays that often clogged older Wal-Mart departments.
It is in emerging subcategories where Wal-Mart is showing that despite its behemoth size, the chain can be nimble and responsive to trends. For example, there’s a department clearly designated as “multicultural” with brands such as Shea Moisture and Alberto Culver’s Motions line. In cosmetics, Wal-Mart trimmed its expansive nail category from its planogram launched 18 months ago, to make room for the up-and-coming lash/brow and accessories business. The assortment in this area is stocked with Revlon eyelashes, Eco-Tools and accessories such as fashion tape from Hollywood Fashion Secrets. While tightened, nail still has a wide array of colors with space for brands such as Fuze, Essie and Sally Hansen’s Miracle Gel. Miracle Gel is visibly selling so fast that many colors were out of stock including the hard-to-find topcoat that is needed to complete the gel look.
Another niche market Wal-Mart is serving is natural beauty, with a four-foot section of Burt’s Bees and Alba natural body products.
Wal-Mart is also going full throttle on fragrances with new testers with the bottles affixed tightly alongside papers to spritz for sampling. Clever cross merchandising includes a pallet of Parfums de Coeur fragrances priced at $8.98.
Beauty produces an estimated $2 billion to $4 billion at Wal-Mart and is a cornerstone department in all six formats the chain now operates ranging from conventional stores and the Express Markets (now being re-branded to the name Neighborhood Market) to the sprawling Supercenters. Once the vehicle pegged for rapid growth, Supercenters are being scaled back as far as slated new openings. Wal-Mart announced it would open 60 to 70 Supercenters during its fiscal year, a reduction from the planned 120 for this year. There are currently about 3,300 Supercenters. Wal-Mart is investing more in e-commerce initiatives to react to a changing marketplace, said Wal-Mart Stores chief executive officer Doug McMillon. In total, Wal-Mart now operates more than 11,000 stores around the world and 4,322 in the U.S.
Both of the new New Jersey Supercenters offer Wal-Mart’s free Site-to-Store program, which allows customers to order on walmart.com and pick up merchandise at their local store for free.
But for this market, void of a supermarket since 2011, the Supercenter filled a huge need and was quickly picking up traction in beauty, too. One local shopper grabbed Bioré face wash she couldn’t find at her local drugstore. “We never had a store like this before,” she said. “Our town gets overlooked. This is a big deal.”