Sprint executive chairman and former CEO Marcelo Claure on Friday tweeted out an announcement that the mobile carrier is "expanding into 700 Walmart stores."
The nature of the tie-up is unclear at the moment, and Walmart didn't immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for more information around the reported partnership.
Sprint was previously a partner in a co-branding partnership with RadioShack, helping the struggling electronics dealer run about a third of its brick-and-mortar operations in co-branded stores. Last year RadioShack, in the midst of its second bankruptcy in about two years, alleged that Sprint had failed to live up to their deal.
Sprint and Walmart appear to be reviving a partnership that in recent years was receding. By 2015, Sprint's presence in Walmart stores had become "de minimis," according to market research from Wave7 Research cited by Fierce Wireless.
At that time, T-Mobile seemed to be on the rise. But depending on what the new partnership entails, Sprint stands to gain new customers in a way that didn't quite work out when the mobile carrier tied up its fortunes with ailing RadioShack.
With more stores than any other retailer in America, Walmart is a boon to its suppliers, and the retailer has a longstanding commitment to offer goods and services to customers that make it a one-stop shop for all their needs. In addition to being the country's number one grocer, Walmart has long offered other services for customers, including, but not limited to, healthcare.
The retail giant offers banking services, for example, that provide opportunities for people who can't otherwise hold a checking account. In just one example, the company extended its tie-up with Moneygram in April and the two launched Walmart2World, a new money transfer service available in all 4,700 U.S. Walmart stores that allows customers to send money from Walmart in the U.S. to any MoneyGram location in 200 countries.
The mobile business is highly competitive at the moment, arguably thanks to T-Mobile, which shook things up a few years ago by departing from what had been common practices of locking in customers through long-term contracts and phone deals.
The Sprint-Walmart deal likely reflects a shift in mobile sales, with Sprint better off in other retailers' locations than running its own. Best Buy also runs in-store shops dedicated to various carriers having closed all 257 U.S. Best Buy Mobile stand-alone stores earlier this year due to "changing economics in the mobile industry."
"Ultimately this means that the economics of the stores no longer stack up," GlobalData Retail Managing Director Neil Saunders said of that move earlier this year. "With technology becoming more integrated, we also believe that the rationale for a stand-alone mobile store has faded."