TECHNOLOGY

Walmart seeks to streamline online smartphone upgrades

BY Dan Berthiaume

Walmart is applying its approach of low-cost convenience to online smartphone shopping.

The discount giant is offering postpaid cell phone upgrades on Walmart.com, with free home delivery. Beginning with qualifying AT&T customers, Walmart is providing what it calls an online shopping experience “aligned with that of a specialty store.”

Each major wireless carrier, starting with AT&T, will have its own shopping experience within Walmart.com. At launch, AT&T customers upgrading their postpaid cell phones can select from Apple and Samsung devices and choose a payment plan, including choosing a line and installment plan, as well as accepting payment terms.

Once the order is completed, the device is shipped directly to the customer’s address for free, in two days. The customer then follows step-by-step activation instructions for the phone. Prices will be the same as offered in Walmart stores.

Walmart plans to expand the program to other wireless carriers in the coming months.

In addition, Walmart will expand its dedicated wireless experts to an additional 600 stores by the holidays. With this expansion, more than 3,000 Walmart stores will have dedicated experts in wireless to help customers upgrade their phones and activate new lines with major U.S. carriers. This is coupled with a broader initiative to improve the electronics department across stores nationwide, including live product demos and more accessories.

Chief Walmart e-commerce rival Amazon sells unlocked smartphones, smartphones with prepaid wireless plans, and upgrades to postpaid smartphone plans.

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