Walmart’s slogan is “Save Money. Live Better” and the new online shopping tool will allow customers to do just that by seeing the competitors price before they purchase an item online.
The world’s largest retailer began offering the feature, called “Savings Catcher,” on its website late last month in seven big markets that include Dallas, San Diego and Atlanta. The tool compares advertised prices at retailers with physical stores, and not at online rivals like Amazon.com that also offer low prices on staples.
Here’s how the tool works: A customer has to set up an account on www.walmart.com, log onto the Savings Catcher page and type in the number on their receipt.
Savings Catcher compares prices of every item on the receipt to a database of advertised prices of competitors that’s provided by an undisclosed third party. The tool doesn’t apply to general merchandise like clothing or electronic gadgets.
Walmart prices are matched to stores based on geographic location. For example, in Atlanta, Walmart compares prices to nearly 20 rivals, including Aldi, CVS, Food Lion, Target and Dollar General.
Any difference in prices is put on a Walmart online gift card. Customers can accumulate savings or use the credit immediately. They can redeem in stores or online by printing out the gift card receipt.
Shoppers compare competitor prices so often that big retailers that include behemoths like Target and Best Buy have started offering to match the lower prices of rivals — but only if shoppers do the research on their own. The idea behind Walmart’s online feature, on the other hand, is to do the legwork for customers.
Walmart has a long history of undercutting competitors prices, this move could not only change the way people shop, but also how other retailers price their merchandise. After all, Americans already increasingly are searching for the lowest prices on their tablets and smartphones while in checkout aisles.
Ken Perkins, president of retail research firm Retail Metrics LLC, said the move will “put pressure on everyone else to follow suit.” But he and other industry watchers voiced concerns that the tool doesn’t compare prices of online retailers.
Meanwhile, Walmart said it wants to see how competitors and customers respond to the program, but it doesn’t have any plans to add online stores to the test.
Walmart built its business on offering lowest prices on staples such as milk, bread and laundry detergent. But Walmart’s “every day low price” model is under attack from dollar stores and grocery stores like Kroger in addition to the Amazons of the world. On top of that, the retailer’s primarily lower-income customers continue to cut back on spending during the economic recovery.
The companies U.S. discount division recorded its fourth consecutive quarter of declines in revenue at stores opened at least a year, a critical yardstick for measuring a retailer’s health. The discounter also has seen a decline in the number of shoppers going to its stores.
The fresh idea for Savings Catcher was born last year during a focus group. The idea instantly resonated with the group, the retailer said, and by last summer, Walmart was testing it in four markets on an invitation-only basis. Last month, the company began rolling it out to the seven markets that also include Charlotte, N.C., Huntsville, Ala., Minneapolis, and Lexington, Ky.
Preliminary data shows that in the markets that have the Savings Catcher, shoppers are putting more items in their basket and the checkout lines are faster because people don’t feel like they have to pull out their smartphones or circular ads to check prices.
The company declined to say when the program could be expanded nationally.
Walmart’s New Online Shopping Tool Allows Customers to See Competitors Price.
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