BENTONVILLE, ARK. - To align its cellular departments with its cost-conscious customer base, Walmart prominently positions prepaid phones on end caps, offers only prepaid services in its new mobile broadband areas, and features a broad array of free phones.
Also in line with the company's low-price strategy, the company - like Best Buy and RadioShack - does not offer mail-in rebate programs, which are commonly used by carriers to reduce advertised prices.
"Walmart's strategy is always low prices to be delivered to the customer immediately, so we do not participate in rebates," a spokesperson explained. "Either we lower the price of the phone as soon as possible - like the iPhone - or we will offer an immediate value of a gift card with a phone."
In the company's Riverdale, N.J., store, 18 of 35 handsets on display on the store's wireless counters were free phones. The handsets featured Verizon Wireless, T-Mobile and AT&T service.
Two sides of the four-sided department featured phones from the three national carriers on waist-high counters angled up toward the customer. A third side featured a dedicated iPhone display and a dedicated BlackBerry display with a cellular-accessories display sandwiched in between.
The department featured two touchscreen displays that consumers could use to select phones, carriers and service plans.
Near the cellular department's counters, an end-cap display offered Verizon prepaid phones in clam packs. A second nearby end cap featured Straight Talk prepaid phones in a box and prepaid cars, along with three tethered mockup phones.