Walmart Brings Its New Look to New Jersey

The future at Walmart leans heavily on fashion.

As the retailer’s “store of the future” moves from the testing phase to a broader rollout, its priorities are clear at its newly transformed store in Secaucus, N.J., one of the more than 300 doors due to be remodeled this year.

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The revamped apparel department is front and center — in the prime spot across from checkout — with shops dedicated to national brands like Reebok and private labels like the Brandon Maxwell-designed Free Assembly and Scoop.

The look and the approach skew more toward department store than traditional Walmart with the branded shops and video displays that seek to sell the romance of fashion, right across the aisle from rotisserie chickens and candy corn.

The value message is clear — of course — but gone are the prominent price signs as Walmart is looking to sell the product more than the price.

Denise Incandela, executive vice president of Walmart U.S.’ apparel division and private brands, told reporters on a store tour that the future is working for the retailer.

Reebok, for instance, is performing three times better in the remodeled stores than in the rest of the chain.

Incandela, a veteran of Saks Fifth Avenue and Ralph Lauren Corp., said she has experience “chasing transformational opportunities” and is happy to be at it again.

Walmart, of course, remains Walmart.

Opening price points make up 65 percent of the assortment and there are still plenty of basics. Prices across the board are intended to be a step below competitors.

Now Walmart is leaning a little more forward and making it easier to see and feel the fashion. Aisles were widened to four feet from three feet and racks were removed to give an airier feel and draw grocery shoppers to the style.

The store also has hired visual merchandisers and installed mannequins.

“We all passionately believe that you need to see the product,” Incandela said. “We’re trying to inspire her to get her excited.”

Walmart is also trying to make its heft clear.

“We are the biggest denim retailer in the nation; we want to look like it,” Incandela said, pointing to an expansive selection of jeans and referring to it as a “category killer.”

Overall, Walmart’s goal in apparel is to democratize fashion, overhaul the experience and change consumer perceptions around its offering.

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