Walmart tests electronic tech services similar to Best Buy’s Geek Squad

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 6,031 views 

The electronic section at the Walmart store on Elm Springs Road in Springdale.

Walmart is testing electronic tech services through a partnership with True Network Solutions. The Walmart Supercenter at Elm Springs Road in Springdale is the first Arkansas tech desk. Walmart is also testing the service in four stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth area.

The Elm Springs store recently completed a remodel and the electronics department now includes a tech services desk that looks similar to a Geek Squad counter at competitor Best Buy. Walmart has not made an announcement about the effort. Walmart did not return a request for more information on the test. The Elm Springs store did have a recent post on social media about the new tech services desk, and Talk Business & Politics confirmed the test with store employees.

The services offered through Walmart’s tech desk include smartphone repair such as screen replacements for $79 for iPhone 6 and newer. The cost to replace a battery is $49.99. Walmart said phone repair services are done in-store within a few hours. Other services such as diagnostic data recovery on laptops is also offered. Those services are not performed in-store. The charge for diagnostic laptop repair is a flat $249.99 and is done offsite.

The screen replacement on Apple devices at Best Buy costs $129.99 and $199.99 for Samsung phones. Walmart undercuts this cost considerably with a turnkey price of $79. Walmart’s tech services also include smart home sets for lights, smart hub, or smart thermostat set up and installation. Each of the services cost a flat $79, according to the Walmart brochure.

Best Buy offers a total tech support subscription for $199.99 annually and with the service, the set-up for smart home costs $49.99. Walmart also offers a premium tech support and repair subscription for $89.99. This plan includes one-time initial setup service, unlimited 24/7 U.S. based tech support and tech coaching, unlimited PC tune-ups, unlimited virus removal and data recovery. Walmart undercuts the Best Buy cost for the annual subscription with similar services covered.

Walmart has expanded into services as a way to grow revenue and also be a catalyst for foot traffic in-stores. Looking at the impact Geek Squad has made on Best Buy, it’s clear to see why Walmart might be interested in trying to replicate this model. Services made up 5% of Best Buy’s total revenue last year. With U.S. revenue of $39.3 billion, services totaled more than $1.975 billion. More importantly, the segment grew comparable sales by 7% year-over-year, while boosting overall comp sales.

Analysts have said with price deflation in many electronics sold at Walmart, services are one way Walmart can shore up revenue in the category. Also with video and audio streaming popularity, the sales of movies, DVDs and music CDs sold in stores have continued to erode in recent years.

Carol Spieckerman, CEO of Spieckerman Retail, said business model diversification is the growth engine of the future for retailers. Walmart exemplifies that trajectory, she said.

“Tech service is a logical move to position Walmart as an ongoing destination for technology for the short and long term,” she said. “As consumers continue to work from home and some kids continue with homeschooling, the launch timing makes sense. Not to mention the holiday shopping season cranking up. Although there are lesser-known providers of tech services, Best Buy is the primary ‘brand name’ provider. That leaves plenty of room for Walmart to make a move.”