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What’s In Store At Walmart: TWICE Previews The New CE Department

NORTH BERGEN, N.J. — Walmart
will continue to stretch the boundaries
of the full-line discount channel
over the coming months as it rolls out
an array of advanced consumer electronics
products and new in-store displays
in which to showcase them.

To find out what’s in store for the
discount chain — as well as its customers
and competitors — TWICE
visited one of the first Walmart locations
within the greater New York
metropolitan area to receive the complete
CE department reset.

The focus, explained home entertainment
senior VP Gary Severson, is
on connectivity, as reflected in a slew
of Internet-capable TVs and Blu-ray
Disc players, a larger
assortment of homenetworking
and accessories, a dedicated
area for mobile
broadband services,
and a wider selection
of smartphones.

In video, the chain
is complementing an
expanded IPTV offering with edgeand
full-array backlit LED TVs from
Samsung, Sony, Vizio and its latest
tier-one brand addition, LG, further
blurring the line between the mass
and specialty channels.

The state-of-theart
TVs will be
showcased within
new “New Technolog
y” centers
that are rolling out
to 1,200 stores,
while promotionally
priced models
will be merchandised
within a separate display area
on the floor.

Size also matters for Walmart. The
company is increasing its SKU-count
of 42-inch displays in most locations,
and is widening its assortment of 55-
inch screens throughout more than
half the chain.

Also expanding, by half, is the number
of content-streaming Blu-ray Disc
players that Vudu’s new owner will offer.
The players, by LG, Samsung, Sony
and Vizio, are app agnostic and also offer
services by Blockbuster, Netflix,
Pandora and other competitors.

Other home-theater enhancements
include an expanded selection
of sound-bar-based HTiBs from
Samsung and Vizio that will hit some 2,000 stores, and a redesigned packaged
media section, rolling out to all
stores this summer, that highlights
new releases (“New”), Blu-ray discs
(“Blu”) and promotionally-priced titles

In wireless, Walmart is stocking
Cisco’s easy-to-set up Valet router
along with other home-networking
products and accessories from Belkin
and Netgear, while the mobile section
receives a dedicated area for prepaid
broadband services from AT&T,
Cricket, Verizon and Virgin.

Prepaid cellular options also increase
with the 700-store rollout of
Common Cents, an exclusive program
with Sprint that provides 7-cent texts
and 7-cent-a-minute talktime that
rounds usage down rather than up.

In postpaid, Walmart is increasing
its smartphone assortment by nearly
60 percent year over year, and continues
to get an early crack at cuttingedge
devices like Sprint’s new Evo 4G
phone from HTC.

The strategy, Severson said in a
statement, is to “offer simple, affordable
solutions for creating a more connected
life,” and to create for those
products “a well-defined shopping experience…
that enables customers
to find what they need quickly, learn
about new technology, compare prices
among top brands, and every day find
amazing value.”

Indeed, recent price “rollbacks” include
a Magnavox BD player for $78, a
Sanyo 42-inch LCD TV for $548 and
a 47-inch LG LED TV for $1,568, although
a 52-inch, 120Hz LED from
Sony, while aggressively priced at
$2,058, extends the discounter’s typical
price ceiling in pursuit of higherincome

To get a first-hand look at how the
new product lines and displays are
being implemented, TWICE visited
Walmart Supercenter No. 3795
in the New York bedroom community
of North Bergen, N.J. Opened
in January, the 217,000-square-foot
megastore reflects the company’s newest
format, featuring the wide, uncluttered
aisles, improved sightlines and
brighter lighting of the chain’s Project
Impact remodeling program.

The location’s expansiveness also
provided the runway for a CE department
reset featuring all elements
of Walmart’s latest electronics initiatives,
as seen in the accompanying
store photos.