Discount giant Wal-Mart Stores Inc. is going mini for the holiday season.
The world's biggest retailer has opened two temporary Walmart.com shops in Southern California aimed at steering shoppers to its website.
Known as pop-up stores, the locations will display a curated assortment of toys and electronics. Shoppers can browse the items, then order them directly from Wal-Mart's website on laptops and tablet computers provided on tables at each store.
"The goal was to give our local customers easier access to the range of products on Walmart.com," spokesman Lorenzo Lopez said. "It's not uncommon for us to test different formats and different offerings in different markets just to learn how customers respond."
One store, located in Canoga Park at the Westfield Topanga mall, is about 1,000 square feet; the other is in downtown San Diego and measures 3,000 square feet. They're a fraction of the size of Wal-Mart Express stores (which average 15,000 square feet) or the behemoth Wal-Mart Supercenters (180,000 square feet).
Although some items such as headphones and 3-D glasses can be purchased on the spot, the tiny formats mean many products are for display only, Lopez said.
Lopez said the goal was to offer a "continuous experience" to customers, integrating the online and offline shopping processes. Customers who order products at Walmart.com can opt for home delivery or for pickup later at a local Wal-Mart store.
The company does not plan to open additional pop-up stores this season, Lopez said. The two stores are scheduled to close at the end of December.
"The emphasis for us is to offer the new format and see how customers react," he said.
— Shan Li
Photo: The Wal-Mart logo displayed in Springfield, Ill. Credit: Seth Perlman / Associated Press