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Wal-Mart Upgrading Its CE Departments

Bentonville, Ark. — Wal-Mart has begun rolling out display, signage and assortment upgrades to its CE departments nationwide.

The remodels will emphasize the mobility and home entertainment categories, the company said, and are

designed to improve navigation and enhance the shopping experience.

The move continues Wal-Mart’s three-year effort to consolidate CE market share and reposition itself as a destination for must-have electronics. To that end, new SKU additions will include Dell’s Studio One 19 touch-screen all-in-one PC, a wider selection of 120Hz LCD TVs, and the forthcoming Palm Pre smart phone.

“We’ve made a number of significant changes in the last three years to raise the bar in our offerings and gain consumer confidence and trust as an electronics destination, and we have every intention of keeping that pace with continued improvements in service and assortment,” said Gary Severson, Wal-Mart’s home entertainment senior VP.

As part of the overhaul, the retailer is beefing up its flat-panel assortment with more 1080p and 120Hz models in new 46-inch and 52-inch screen sizes, and has expanded its assortment of Blu-ray players and movies.

Wal-Mart will also add a dedicated “sound and sight” area that will demo Blu-ray content through an HDTV and a multichannel audio system.

In wireless, Wal-Mart has increased the assortment by 30 percent and has redesigned and expanded the display area, which will focus solely on cellular and smartphone products and activation.

The company has also created a new display area for its Hewlett-Packard, Dell and Toshiba notebooks that allows customers to demo live units;  a new display casing and assortment for portable music devices and accessories; and separate display areas that showcase new technologies, trends and coming releases in such areas as gaming and notebooks.

The CE departments will also feature color-coded and branded signage in gaming, wireless, home office and other categories to make it easier for shoppers to navigate the aisles.

Department managers and sales associates are implementing the updates this week in 3,500 stores, Wal-Mart said.

Specific additions to the CE assortment include:

  • Dell’s new Studio One 19 all-in-one touchscreen desktop, which will be available exclusively at Wal-Mart for a limited period beginning in June;
  • an expanded selection of Samsung, Sony and Vizio TVs, including new 46- and 52-inch models;
  • a wider selection of colorful 11-inch Acer netbooks, in stores this week at $298;
  • Sony’s portable e-book, which will only be available at 500 stores; and
  • more mobile phones, including the BlackBerry Bold for AT&T, Samsung Instinct s30 for Sprint, expanded distribution of the BlackBerry Storm with Verizon, and the Palm Pre phone with Sprint in select stores.