- Walmart next month will start requiring customers to use its mobile payments system, Walmart Pay, at checkout to connect with its Savings Catcher app, according to Talk Business & Politics. The Saving Catcher app compares prices at rival stores and offers cash back for the difference. The discount chain said it doesn't expect the Walmart Pay requirement to negatively affect usage of the app, given its popularity and repeat usage rate.
- The Walmart Pay requirement takes effect on Oct. 29 and is the latest change to the Savings Catcher app, which the company introduced in 2014. Earlier this year, Walmart required cash rewards to be transferred to a Savings Catcher eGift card and it also launched an auto-redeem feature that transferred cash to the Walmart Pay app.
- Walmart initially let consumers transfer cash rewards to an electronic gift card or to Bluebird, a card that Walmart and American Express created in 2012 as an alternative to banking services. The Bluebird card had let customers spend their Savings Catcher refunds anywhere, but now the rewards must be spent at Walmart.
Walmart's requirement that customers use Walmart Pay for Savings Catcher rewards is part of the chain's effort to promote its mobile payment platform. The percentage of smartphone users who set up Walmart Pay and used it for their last purchase increased to 5.9% in December from 3.3% in March 2017, per a survey by PYMTS and InfoScout. By comparison, Apple Pay usage stood at 3% of smartphone users in December, the survey found. Walmart's efforts have reaped benefits: While shoppers prefer Apple Pay, they typically spend more with Walmart Pay, according to a separate survey.
Walmart wants to strengthen its bond with customers as it faces growing competition from rivals like Amazon, which is registering more stores to use its mobile payment platform. Meanwhile, Amazon also plans to open as many as 3,000 cashierless Amazon Go stores by 2021, Bloomberg reported. The expansion could have a greater negative effect on convenience chains like 7-Eleven or quick-service restaurants like Subway and Panera Bread rather than Walmart's bigger-format stores that offer greater product selection. Still, Walmart is likely feeling the competition tighten as Amazon expands its cashierless and mobile payment programs, and is developing creative ways to encourage shoppers try out Walmart Pay.
Walmart is smart to prioritize mobile-integrated tech into its stores, as research shows that consumers are interested in using shopping apps for coupons or earning cash rewards from grocery shopping. About 93% of shoppers use coupons or promotional offers when buying groceries, compared with 68% for restaurants and 62% for healthcare items, a survey by agency Valassis found. Consumers also want to use coupons and deals for nontraditional categories like travel (33%) and prescription drugs (20%), the survey found, the latter pointing to a potential expansion opportunity for Walmart.