Wal-Mart to expand Savings Catcher for the holidays (Updated)

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 115 views 

Walmart Savings Catcher, a mobile app that compares local sale prices of branded grocery items within a particular region, is being expanded to include toys and perhaps other merchandise for the upcoming holiday season.

Consumers have widely adopted the program with 33 million receipts scanned as of early October and more than $2 million returned to customers using the app since it was rolled out nationwide in August, according to Wal-Mart Global eCommerce CEO Neil Ashe.

Wal-Mart confirmed that the price comparison tool will include its top 20 toy list for this holiday season. This is effective now and will run throughout the holiday season.

“If a top local competitor offers a lower advertised price on those or other eligible items, customers get the difference on a Walmart eGift Card,” Wal-Mart noted.

It is unclear what “other general merchandise” could be added to the program during the holidays or if a Black Friday only activation can be expected. Insiders recently shared with The City Wire that the retailer has planned special uses of the tool during the holidays.

CEO Doug McMillion did not provide any details to The City Wire when asked recently about the possibilities of an expanded scope to include general merchandise during the holiday period.

His response were merely, “Thanks for the suggestion.”

UPDATED: Wal-Mart officials did confirm later that the company is exploring the possibility of matching prices between its own online and brick and mortar establishments. Store managers now have the ability to do so at their discretion, but the retail execs confirmed to the media Thursday (Oct. 30) that it is examining online price matching. The retailer gave no details except to say “it’s being discussed.”

Retail expert Carol Spieckerman, CEO of New Market Builders, said expanding Savings Catcher to include new categories makes sense now that Wal-Mart has worked out the model.

“It’s downright brilliant in advance of the holiday shopping season. Millions of shoppers have caught Savings Catcher fever in grocery and those same shoppers can be expected to remain in Wal-Mart’s shopping ecosystem as it expands the program into new categories,” Spieckerman added. “Walmart has nothing to lose and everything to gain as it retains shopper loyalty and gathers even more valuable data on customers' shopping and surfing habits during a make-or-break season.”

During the recent investor conference (Oct. 15) Wal-Mart execs were asked about extending Savings Catcher price matching to general merchandise categories. The retailer responded that many competitors increase their prices as inventory runs down, so what price should they match in those instances in those instances?

IGD analyst Stewart Samuel agreed that it’s harder for Wal-Mart to match general merchandise prices than groceries due to the high level of price variability and said that hurdle could keep them from expanding to more categories.

That said, the retailer has already agreed to allow Savings Catcher for its top toy list, and, outside of electronics, perhaps no other category is featured more during the holidays than toys. The retailer isn’t bothered by that scenario.

Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer for Walmart U.S., has said from the first announcement about Savings Catcher (March 2014) that the retailer planned to start with grocery and add other categories to Savings Catcher.

Speickerman said there is no better time than the competitive holiday season for Wal-Mart to make that move.