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Wal-Mart to de-clutter the store, boost the web

New York – Changes are coming on-line and in-store later this year as Wal-Mart strives to convince consumers it’s not merely a distributor of goods but a brand in itself, part of the retailer’s attempt to emphasize value as opposed to price.

The home category is evolving into a “room solutions” merchandising and marketing story on the floor and on-line, according to Stephen Quinn, senior vp of marketing, who joined the company six months ago after 13 years at PepsiCo.

“There has been a major upgrade in the goods that are part of the room solutions. Many are being demonstrated on line, and you’re going to see more of that as the year progresses,” he said earlier today at the Bear Stearns Annual Retail, Restaurants & Consumer Conference here.

Store environments will improve over the coming 18 months as well, he said, with better signage and presentation. Assortments are being edited across all categories so that Wal-Mart can sell more key merchandise in smaller spaces, freeing up additional room for better room solution merchandising, he said.

The brand-building and merchandise upgrades are part of Wal-Mart’s effort grab a greater share of wallet from its “selective shopper,” the consumer who comes to the store for consumables, but shops elsewhere for margin-rich home furnishings, apparel and consumer electronics. Although two-thirds of U.S. shoppers visit Wal-Mart at least once a month, only 4% said they chose the store because of its higher quality products, according to a recent Wal-Mart Shopper Insights report by consultancy Retail Forward.

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