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The change, which will officially take place beginning in February, is part of a years-long effort by the world’s largest retailer to get customers to think beyond its 11,600 stores. The company has spent billions buying up websites like Jet.com and Bonobos and is encouraging customers to shop online, as well as through voice-activated devices like Google Home.
“We felt it was best to have a name that was consistent with the idea that you can shop us however you like as a customer,” Doug McMillon, the company’s president and chief executive, said in a statement. “As time goes on, customers will increasingly just think of and see one Walmart.”
As online shopping catches on, many retailers have tried to distance themselves from physical stores, which for many have become costly vestiges of the past. Major companies such as Sears and Macy’s have closed hundreds of stores this year, and others, like the Limited and Filene’s Basement, now operate online-only businesses.
Even retailers that rely heavily on physical locations are changing their approach. Apple now calls its stores “town squares,” while Starbucks is racing to open new “roasteries.” And Nordstrom’s latest concept, called “Local,” is decidedly un-store-like: It offers styling services, craft beer and manicures, but zero merchandise.
“There is no question that people are trying to get away from the use of the word ‘store’ as well as ‘mall,’” Leonard Schlesinger, a professor of management at Harvard Business School, told the Atlantic earlier this year. “They are increasingly perceived as remnants of a retail world which is increasingly under siege.”
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