Bentonville, Ark. -- Wal-Mart, the world's largest retailer, announced today that it will begin selling major appliances by year's end under a pilot program with GE.
The market test, which will be conducted in about a dozen stores, will encompass GE-branded refrigerators, freezers, ranges, over-the-range microwaves, dishwashers, washing machines and dryers.
The trial effort mirrors GE's arrangement with The Home Depot in that the manufacturer will assume most of the warehousing, delivery and installation duties. Like Home Depot, Wal-Mart will display about 40 appliances in its stores, offer another 150 through in-store kiosks, and will have a limited amount of inventory on hand for consumers inclined to haul their white goods home. GE will deliver the lion's share of appliances, whether they are ordered through the kiosks or purchased through a Wal-Mart salesperson.
The announcement comes just weeks after Circuit City, the nation's No. 2 majap merchant, said it was abandoning the category. Wal-Mart said the timing was coincidental.
The initial test markets will include Texas, Arizona and Oklahoma, and additional stores are expected to participate in the program next year.