Turns out, there is an app for returning more than $2 million to Walmart shoppers.
Wal-Mart is proud of its Savings Catcher program that promises to scout competitor’s sales prices on groceries and selected general merchandise for its shoppers based on receipts scanned into the retailer's shopping app.
"So far since inception we have helped our customers capture more than $2 million by using Savings Catcher. Immediately after the August 4 rollout the app was the No. 1 downloaded lifestyle app from the iTunes App store," said Molly Blakeman, Wal-Mart spokeswoman.
Wal-Mart declined to say how it will report these savings at year-end as gift cards will be given to consumers for accrued and unused credits. Wal-Mart spokesman Randy Hargrove told The City Wire that the retailer has budgeted for Savings Catcher and has no plans to share the debits and credits involved on the company’s profit and loss ledger because they are not deemed financially material.
For instance, the retailer's U.S. sales totaled more than $279 billion last year so a few million in gift card expenses related to Savings Catcher won't likely move the needle that much. Then why might Wal-Mart be so bullish on this program?
Matt Kistler, senior vice president of global consumer insights and analytics at Wal-Mart, recently shared with suppliers that Wal-Mart is mining data from customers and Savings Catcher is a tool that can help the retailer monitor competitor prices and provide deeper shopper insights.
Analysts have said the Savings Catcher and soon-to-be-offered e-receipts will give the retailer more insight into individual shopper purchases that can be used to create shopping lists in the coming months.
“The best shopping lists are those you don’t have to create yourself,” said Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of mobile and global e-commerce.
Thomas said during the retailer’s June shareholder meeting that Wal-Mart will continue to use technology in exciting ways to get closer to the customer.
Suppliers recently asked Kistler when and if Wal-Mart planned to share those deep consumer insights.
“We are just now starting to get meaningful data on the Savings Catcher program. I suspect we will continue mining and analyzing it and at some point will share relevant data our supplier partners” he said.
Jamie Smith of Elkins likes using the program. The one drawback is that it takes three days to get the results. Smith, who has done freelance work for The City Wire, has saved $3 in her last three trips to Wal-Mart.
Jennifer Ragland, a school teacher in Waco, has received $8 from Savings Catcher and admits to being somewhat obsessed with scanning the receipt as soon as she gets it. Another shopper in Fayetteville said she has $10 in her Savings Catcher account, which she is saving to buy diapers.
Peggy Knight, a former executive with Sam’s Club, loves the program and has amassed $15 in savings. The drawback she sees is that many of cashiers have not been trained on redeeming the credits.
“I had to call a supervisor,” Knight said.
None of the shoppers interviewed by The City Wire said were concerned about the data Wal-Mart is collecting on their buying habits. Knight, now a retail consultant based in Rogers, said Sam’s Club and other retailers’ loyalty programs do the same thing in capturing shopping data which is most frequently used for marketing purposes.
She said the retail space is hyper competitive with nearly everyone trying new ways to woo shoppers.
“Target has a 5% discount card if you attach it to your debit card,” Knight said.
Jason Long, CEO of St. Louis-based Shift Marketing Group, said psychologically Savings Catcher is resonating with the customers because it takes the price comparison work off their plate. He said it hasn’t been that long ago when Wal-Mart was the clear leader in low prices in the minds of most consumers. But Dollar Stores, Aldi and aggressive pricing from Kroger, HEB and other grocers have nipped away at that image.
Others agree with Long.
“The genius of Wal-Mart’s Savings Catcher program is that it adds a new dimension to its price match guarantee while continuing to make it incumbent upon shoppers to take the initiative. Wal-Mart can satisfy shoppers who are truly price sensitive and message value and price transparency to everyone else without lowering prices across the board. It offers the best of both worlds,” said Carol Spieckerman, CEO of newmarketbuilders.
Analysts with Cleveland Research said of Savings Catcher: “It’s basically the same thing as the Ad Match Guarantee but it takes the work out of the hands of the consumer.”