Recently, AdAge reported that Walmart is starting a loyalty program. Based on their price-match guarantee, Walmart is launching an app named “Savings Catcher,” which consumers can use to receive refunds for items purchased at Walmart that have been found for a lower price at a competitor. While many stores have price-match guarantees, this app ups the ante. In the past, customers were responsible for discovering the lower prices and then bringing a physical ad into a Walmart for the price match. This, of course, required time spent by the customer researching their purchase online. Unless a customer is aware of a lower price, or discovers one accidentally, it is unlikely many will spend the time researching all of their purchases just to save a few dollars. “Savings Catcher,” however, doesn’t require any time for a consumer to take advantage of these savings. According to the article, all shoppers need to do is scan a receipt for the items purchased at Walmart into the app. A third-party tracking firm will then discover the lower prices for them and refund the savings to the consumer in the form of a Walmart gift card. Many consumers already view Walmart as having low prices, which is why consumers flock to the stores in droves. The addition of this loyalty program is likely to further instill this into consumers and attract even more customers.
While a businessperson might question how the “low price leader” that sells on slim margins can afford to do this, the answer is actually a very simple one. Data.
By participating in the program, consumers are trading information. This information will allow Walmart to encourage shoppers to buy even more items from them using a pretty unconventional approach. Most companies use loyalty data to increase marketing effectiveness through targeting. Walmart, however, says they aren’t going to. According to the article, Walmart is going to give consumers access to complied loyalty data that will let the customer search and sort their receipts; get pie charts breaking down how they spend their money; generate ‘predictive shopping lists;’ keep a running tab of in-store purchases to stay on budget; get notifications when there’s a manufacturer coupon available for an item on their list; or get the best-priced bundle of items within a pre-set budget. Senior vice president of e-commerce and mobile for Walmart said, “We found the best shopping list is one you don’t actually have to create.”
It’s certainly an interesting concept. Whether Walmart shoppers will embrace the many features available within the application to dictate their shopping lists remains to be seen. It’s certainly easy to see how the pricing guarantee and automatic refund feature would be attractive, not only to Walmart’s existing customers, but to new customers. If this program is proven to work as described, and the third-party pricing comparison is accurate, it could instill even more confidence into shoppers that Walmart really is where they will save the most money. And not just on sale items, but on everything. And that is a pretty powerful incentive for people to shop at Walmart.