Wal-Mart makes more changes to Savings Catcher program

by Kim Souza (ksouza@talkbusiness.net) 2,496 views 

The Savings Catcher money savings app rolled out by Walmart U.S. in 2014 will undergo some changes starting Feb. 1, according to the retail giant who notified customers this week by email.

Wal-Mart said the cash rewards will automatically transfer to a Savings Catcher eGift card each time they are earned. There will no longer be the need to manually redeem the awards and consumers will no longer receive an email containing the barcode required to activate the funds, the retailer said. Wal-Mart said shoppers can let the Savings Catcher rewards accumulate in an eGift card to spend a later date if they so desire. The retailer said rewards can now be carried over from year to year but there’s a $1,000 limit of eGift cards.

Wal-Mart is also scrapping the option consumers have to transfer their Savings Catcher funds to a BlueBird card as of Feb. 1. This option to transfer to the Bluebird card, Wal-Mart’s alternative banking service offering in conjunction with American Express. The retailer said it seeks to simplify the redemption process with the automatic transfers and told consumers they could start the auto-redemption of Savings Catcher rewards to Walmart Pay by selecting that option in the mobile app.

A few months ago Wal-Mart began offering an auto redeem feature that transfers Savings Catcher funds directly to Walmart Pay. These funds can be used in stores or when shopping on the retailer’s website.

Savings Catcher is the only way shoppers can get the sale prices offered by nearby competitors as Wal-Mart has abandoned its price-matching services. Earlier this year Wal-Mart begin abandoning its competitor ad-match program in stores across the country, including its home base of Northwest Arkansas. Signs went up at the service desk at local stores saying ad-match was discontinued. No longer can customers show their cashier ads such as Aldi selling avocados for 39 cents each and expect to the get the same price.

Wal-Mart did say it was lowering prices on some items to match competitors like Aldi when there is store nearby. For instance the week before Thanksgiving the Walmart Supercenter located on South Robinson in Springdale sold eggs for 46 cents per dozen matching the Aldi price across the street.

This is not the first time changes have been made to the Savings Catcher app. In early Wal-Mart discontinued matching prices in departments such as bakery and produce. Wal-Mart said at that time it would limit the comparisons to offers of other mass market retailers, grocery and dollar stores, but drug stores were removed from the list of competitors. The focus since 2015 has been on grocery and consumable items like branded dairy, cleaning suppliers and beauty aide as well as over-the-counter medications.

Analysts have said Savings Catcher is one way the retailer can ensure it’s delivering on low prices, a promise Wal-Mart makes to its 140 million U.S. shoppers each week. But because there is no comparison of private brands, competitors like Aldi are not among the retailers Wal-Mart routinely checks.

While Savings Catcher is a loyalty program of sorts, it does not have the same impact as it once did given private brands and fresh produce now make up a larger part of shopping baskets, and those are not included in the Savings Catcher app comparisons, according to analysts with IGD.

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