Wal-Mart Offers Trade-In For Phones
On Tuesday, the world’s largest retailer announced that it would launch a trade-in program for customers in the United States. Beginning September 21st, consumers in the United States can head to one of Wal-Mart’s 3,600 participating stores or Sam Club’s nationwide and trade-in their old mobile device for a shiny new one.
“Smartphones have become a part of our customers’ everyday lives and as new devices launch more frequently, trade-in programs are becoming more popular,” said Steve Bratspies, executive vice president of general merchandise for Wal-Mart U.S. in a statement “More and more, customers are choosing where they purchase new smartphones based on where they’ll get the best value for their trade-ins. Our goal is to give them more value for their old devices and the lowest price for their new one – all part of our promise to be the best destination for wireless.”
Wal-Mart is also working with CExchange to determine the price of the handsets being turned in. These must be in working, non-damaged condition.
Once accepted by the retailer, customers can use the trade-in for a new smartphone (including models from Samsung and Apple) with a two-year contract from AT&T, Sprint or Verizon Wireless. In addition, the retailer will offer prepaid plans, including Wal-Mart’s own Straight Talk.
“The reason Wal-Mart is launching their trade in program is similar, but different than Apple’s reason,” said telecommunications analyst Jeff Kagan. “Today there are more competitors and Apple wants to keep customers buying iPhones.
“Wal-Mart doesn’t care whether customers buy iPhones, they just want them buying the next phone at Wal-Mart,” Kagan told redOrbit. “So they are changing the economics of the game and giving the customer a reason to shop Wal-Mart.”
This also in turn could create a secondary market for used handsets, but it will face competition from the likes of eBay, Craigslist and even companies such as Apple, who recently announced its own trade-in program.
Consumers might get more value from posting their phone for auction on eBay, or listing it on Craigslist. However, they might find less hassle by simply walking into Wal-Mart and handing over their old handset for a shiny new phone.
“There is a solid and growing market for used devices,” added Kagan. “Used devices are sold at many stores across the USA. The marketplace is changing and retailers must give customers a reason to buy with them.”
In June, Apple launched its own program at its retail stores that allows customers to trade in their old iPhones for the new model. The Apple retail trade-in program is run by Brightstar Corp., which also manages similar trade-in programs for AT&T and T-Mobile.
Apple’s program currently allows customers to exchange an iPhone 4S or iPhone 4 and receive $200, the price for the 16GB iPhone 5 with a two-year service agreement.
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