Walmart is adding installation and assembly services for televisions and furniture to more than 2,000 U.S. Walmart stores through odd-job network Handy beginning next month, the companies said in a press release. The tie-up is already in place in 25 Walmart stores in Atlanta.
Customers can schedule an appointment from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., according to the release. TV mounting will be $79 through Handy, while furniture assembly is $59, a Walmart spokesperson told Retail Dive. The option is also available at Walmart.com.
The new offer is not quite as extensive as Ikea’s takeover of similar home services company TaskRabbit last fall. The Swedish furniture store acquired the startup last year and now offers home assembly online wherever TaskRabbit services are located and through six Ikea stores across the U.S., with more coming throughout the year.
Walmart is offering this new service as it has revamped and expanded its furniture offering. Over the past year, Walmart has nearly doubled its home assortment, with a variety of new furniture and home decor items, Anthony Soohoo, Walmart U.S. e-commerce senior vice president and group general manager of the home category, said in a company blog post last month.
The site unveiled by Soohoo — who arrived at the retail giant last year from online furniture site Dot and Bo (which shuttered in 2016 but was revived by Alibaba last year) — is almost unrecognizable for Walmart, with muted tones and a soft, pale sky color replacing the retail giant's characteristic medium blue.
Home has become quite a crowded space, with legacy players like Pottery Barn as well as established online players and new entrants making inroads. Amazon in November launched two furniture brands, Rivet (with a mid-century modern design flair) and Stone & Beam (with a farmhouse or cottage approach). Target's new "Project 62" furniture line and eclectic home brand Opalhouse, meanwhile, are part of that retailer's renewed commitment to differentiated merchandising.
They're all taking advantage of consumers' increasing willingness to buy large furniture pieces online. Some 15% of $70 billion in U.S. furniture sales are now online, according to IBISWorld data.
But whether such purchases are online or off, furniture assembly and television mounting are pain points that could attract customers as the space becomes more crowded. Until companies like TaskRabbit and Handy showed up, consumers were on their own, and retailers are wise to partner with them, according to Tushar Patel, chief marketing officer of omnichannel solutions platform Kibo.
“Just like BOPIS closing the order fulfillment gap to provide a better brand experience, brick-and-mortar retailers like Walmart and IKEA have seen a potential need when it comes to in-home installation and assembly and have chosen to fill it. This is a smart move," he told Retail Dive in an email. "The consumer has the option to have a more full-service experience, and both the referring company and the referred company come out as heroes."
The service adds a premium to what would otherwise be low-priced furniture, but the convenience factor is so high that Patel expects more sellers to offer such services, even in less upscale segments.
"Both Walmart and IKEA are known for their friendly pricing and, particularly in IKEA's case, very friendly assembly instructions, so it begs the question, 'Is this service even needed?'" he said. "Our answer: Was Uber needed? No, not necessarily, but it is a convenience people were willing to try out, and one that we think will soon become their norm."