- Walmart on May 14 will stop offering its app-based Savings Catcher price-matching service in stores, angering customers who expressed their frustration on social media, Business Insider reported. The service, which required customers to have a Walmart.com account and be enrolled in Walmart Pay on the chain's mobile app, offered gift card refunds to customers who submitted their electronic receipts for comparison with rival stores' advertised prices.
- Walmart announced the end of the savings program in an email to customers, saying that it already offered the lowest prices on most items. "Walmart's prices win most often when you submit your receipts, which tells us that the program's intent has been met," the company wrote.
- Hundreds of customers complained on social media, and some said the Savings Catcher tool helped them save money every time they shopped at Walmart. Some shared screen shots showing their rewards totaling hundreds of dollars and threatened to shop elsewhere.
Every retailer that's experienced shoppers browsing aisles while using their smartphones to compare prices at other stores is aware that mobile technology has transformed the in-store experience. Walmart's Savings Catcher feature aimed to help automate that process of comparison-shopping, saving its customers money and time spent leafing through weekly flyers and websites for deals.
Walmart appears to be quite confident that it offers the lowest prices to risk alienating customers by ending its popular price-matching program. Based on the comments on social media, many customers still feel that Walmart betrayed them and say they'll avoid shopping at its stores when possible. The retail giant will have to work to win back their trust, especially as competitors like Amazon encourage customers to comparison-shop with its mobile app and often offer lower-cost private-label products. In this case, Walmart appears to understand that winning back customers tends to be less expensive than acquiring new ones, according to Harvard Business Review.
Cutting the price-matching tool comes one year after Walmart dropped its mobile Scan & Go service that let customers pay for items while browsing stores and skip the checkout line. The end of these features highlights a key challenge for Walmart in the increasingly cutthroat grocery space, as more players enter the space and integrate convenience-based technology and services.
To better compete with Amazon and other competitors adjusting to consumer desires around convenience, delivery, online ordering and store pickup, Walmart plans to use its stores as product warehouses that support digital shopping and fulfillment. The chain has a massive store footprint — 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a store — that's supported by a highly efficient distribution network. Jeremy King, chief technology officer at Walmart, said at the South By Southwest conference earlier this month that the retailer is looking at how to parlay its scale into more digital shopping, Fast Company reported.