DALLAS — Walmart has launched an in-store tech services kiosk pilot program in Texas that will compete with Apple’s genius bar and Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

Walmart has partnered with New York-based True Network Solutions to staff the kiosks and operate the program, which includes in-home installation of televisions, smart home products, the setup of PCs, tablets, WiFi and other products and a 24/7 tech support plan.

Walmart Tech Services kiosks started operating earlier this month in the electronics department of four Texas Walmart stores and another in Arkansas. Walmart plans to expand the pilot to 50 U.S. stores by mid-2021.

Online shoppers in the pilot markets will also have access to home appointments and remote set-up services.

In stores, kiosk staffers will help customers figure out their electronics needs and perform common fixes, such as screen and battery replacements.

The in-store consultations are free.

The decision to add tech kiosks is a response to shoppers wanting more assistance in electronics, Walmart spokeswoman Anne Hatfield said. “We asked customers if they were interested in using a tech service at Walmart and over half said they were extremely interested.”

Walmart has been making a bigger push into electronics and launched a line of tablets and earbuds under the Onn brand last year. The private label has expanded to include TVs, a boom box and accessories such as cables and speakers.

Spending on electronics is expected to continue to grow,and Walmart faces competition from Amazon, Apple, Best Buy and Target.

“With the increasing pace that new electronic devices and categories are released, our customers have told us they need help navigating the tech world,” said Darryl Spinks, senior director of Walmart Services.

Walmart said basic services will be priced up to 50% below the nearest competitor.

The cost of a screen repair on an iPhone 8 is $69.99, which Walmart said is below the average $110 and Apple’s list price of $149 for an out-of-warranty phone. A battery replacement for an iPhone 8 is $39.99 at Walmart and $49 at Apple, according to its website.

More complex repairs will be done offsite, Walmart said.

Copyright 2020 Tribune Content Agency.