Walmart Launches Tablet Trade-In Program

Smart phone and tablet “trade in” policies are seen by mobile service providers as a way of enticing consumers to upgrade their devices. Such policies also can shift upgrade activity from mobile service provider stores to mass market retailers, with revenue implications for the retailers.

That is one reason why Walmart today announced customers can now trade in their tablets at more than 3,600 stores and Sam’s Club locations nationwide.

Similar to its new smart phone trade-in program, customers and members can receive up to $300 for their current tablet, which will then be applied toward the purchase of a new tablet.

The reason for the new policy is clear: consumers increasingly are upgrading to new devices, service providers and service plans when they can trade in their existing device. So the trade-in policies help drive traffic to retail outlets, and away from mobile service provider retail stores.

“Trade-ins, in their many variations, are the new competitive battlefield for carriers, retailers and OEMs,” said Eddie Hold, NPD Connected Intelligence VP. “The consumer may not necessarily shop at the carrier store for their next device, but instead may look to big box retailers if the trade-in price is right.”

More than 60 percent of smart phone consumers are aware of their trade-in options for a new device and 55 percent of them plan to take advantage of it the next time they upgrade, according to NPD.

In the past, only 13 percent of smart phone owners say they traded in their last mobile device, but the growing awareness and trade-in options have the potential to shift carrier and retailers loyalty.  

Among smart phone consumers, 30 percent said they would switch carriers if a different carrier offered a better trade-in deal, and almost 62 percent said they are willing to go to a different retailer (but not necessarily switch carriers) for a better trade-in price, NPD says.

The trade-in value is applied to a new tablet of their choice. If a customer’s new tablet costs less than the trade-in value of the old tablet, he or she will receive the balance on a Walmart gift card.

In part, the trade-in policies also are important as the bulk of new device sales become replacement sales.
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