Walmart Gets The Picture On Digital Frames
By Greg Tarr On Jun 7 2010 - 4:01am
NEW YORK — No longer the novelty products they
were a few years ago, digital picture frames have developed
into a product that is perfect for the Walmart
Many products offer price points that start at less
than $100. They make great gift items for a wide range
of ages and technology interests, and they can be merchandised
without comprising a great deal of shelf
“Digital frames is a big mass-market category today,
so it does fit in well with what they do,” said Stephen
Baker, industry analysis VP at The NPD Group.
“It’s a more interesting category for Walmart than it
might be for a traditional consumer electronics retailer,
where the business is very seasonal, fashion oriented
and not so much of an interest for a tech-savvy
Although the field of digital frame suppliers is huge,
in recent in-store merchandising assortments,
Walmart has kept the brand
selection to a minimum — Kodak and
As this went to press, many of
Walmart’s older and smaller stores
placed photo frames in the imaging
section, near the in-store printing
The retailer has a dramatically different
merchandising approach for its
brick-and-mortar and online environments.
In some Walmart locations, approximately six SKUs
are showcased on peg board merchandising displays
near the end of an aisle rack. Most included basic feature
sets at lower price points looking to draw impulse
For example, the digital frame section at a smaller
Walmart location in Danbury, Conn., included screen
sizes ranging from 7 inches to 10 inches, with all but
one advertised for less than $100.
These start with a $79 Kodak 7-inch 16:9 basic black
frame with 512MB of onboard memory, positioned
above a $57 Philips 7-inch wood-tone 16:9 model with
128MB of memory.
From there, the line steps up to a $99 Kodak 8-inch
16:9 model with 128MB of memory and on-frame touch activated
This is positioned above a second $57 Philips 7-
inch 16:9 model in black with 128MB
Next to that is a $69 Philips 8-inch 4:3
model with 128MB of memory and 800
by 600 resolution.
The line concludes with a $129 “Rollback
special” Kodak 10-inch 16:9 black
frame with touch border control, 800
by 400 resolution, and built-in Wi-
Fi connectivity to easily access files
from a connected PC or Wi-Fi camera
Baker of NPD said that for the category Walmart
uses a basic model selection that they edit down
based on the volume and sales potential of individual
The mass merchant’s online brand and model assortment
is a completely different story.
Walmart carries approximately 45 SKUs online from
vendors including Alurtek, Coby, Envizen Digital, Epson,
Frame Wizard, Kodak, Motorola, Pandigital, Philips,
Smartparts, Sony, Sungale, Viewsonic and Westinghouse
In some cases, SKUs are carried over from previous
model lines, explaining how several brands remain on
the list despite having left the market or dropped the
category over the last 12 months.
“It doesn’t cost them anything to carry the brands
online because it’s just another model that they have
to sell,” said Ron Glaz, IDC Research imaging program
director. “They don’t carry it in inventory — it
comes from the vendor or another channel that’s a
warehouse that’s actually holding it.”
Online screen size assortments range from 3.5 to
15 inches (diagonally), with pricing starting at $34 for
a closeout 8-inch Westinghouse frame to $334 for an
Epson PictureMate Show combination digital frame
and photo printer.
The majority of the SKUs featured 7- or 8-inch
frames with basic feature sets.
The retailer is also using its Web site to experiment
with higher-tech frames. For example, the mass merchant
carries online Envizen Digital widescreen 7- and
10-inch digital TV and photo frame combinations for
$92.88 and $129, respectively.
It also carries a 7-inch Wi-Fi-enabled frame from
Kodak for $114.
Still, the more elaborate SKUs have not yet penetrated
the in-store mix.
“It’s not uncommon for retailers to use their dotcom
platforms to present a wider product offering
with more diverse products, but it’s hard for anyone
in e-commerce to come on like gangbusters and compare
to any real brick-and-mortar-type volume,” said
Jason Topel, Pandigital assistant VP.
He added that to a degree, Walmart will take successful
vendors on its Walmart.com operation into
the brick-and-mortar environment when changes are
being made to the departments.
Representatives from Kodak and Philips declined to
be interviewed on the in-store program. But industry
sources said Walmart is rethinking the two-branded
merchandising strategy for the category now.
A Walmart executive told TWICE that the store
doesn’t engage in any bundled product promotions
on frames and cameras, or other related items.
“That’s not a promotional platform we are pursuing
in stores at this time,” the executive said. “We currently
have no plans for 3D cameras or 3D digital frames.”