Walmart Stores Inc. and Target Corp. are expanding their offerings and display areas for Apple Inc. products, hoping that customers will not only come in for the hot merchandise, but shop in other parts of the stores.
The rival retailers launched test programs in mid-April, with Walmart adding an "Apple Shop" to a store near its Bentonville, Ark., headquarters, and having plans for 24 more. Target has expanded its Apple offerings at about 20 stores in its home state of Minnesota and in California, where Apple is headquartered.
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In each case, Walmart and Target are seeking to help reignite sluggish same-store sales growth by tapping into Apple's popularity with consumers. For Apple, expanding its relationship with two huge retail partners will help the company get its gadgets to more places, especially rural areas.
The retailers already offer primary Apple products such as iPods, iPads and iPhones. Walmart, under its pilot, has added an Apple "store-within-a-store." The retailer is also adding iPad covers; cases for iPads, iPhones and iPods; Beats headphones; and cases for tablets at all its stores.
Target's test involves providing Apple merchandise including a TV device that allows streaming videos and music, a Time Capsule computer backup device and its Magic Trackpad, which is a replacement for computer mice. Target is also enlarging its display area and allowing customers to touch, play and interact with Apple products.
The plans come as Target is phasing out Amazon.com Inc.'s Kindle products from its stores.
Neither retailer is adding Apple personal computers.
The effort by the two huge retailers speaks to the cachet that Apple products have and how they are being tapped as business builders. "Any retailer that can increase their Apple offerings has a great opportunity to improve their sales, and more importantly, increase their customer traffic, so you get a double win," said Craig Rowley, vice president of retail consulting for the Hay Group.