Walmart's New Tool Gives You Competitors' Prices

Walmart price match
Jacquelyn Martin/AP
By ANNE D'INNOCENZIO

NEW YORK -- The "Every Day Low Price" king is trying to shake up the world of pricing once again.

Walmart told The Associated Press that it has rolled out an online tool that allows shoppers to compare its prices on 80,000 food and household products to those of its competitors. The world's largest retailer began offering the feature that's called "Savings Catcher" on its website late last month in seven big markets that include Dallas, San Diego and Atlanta.

The move by Walmart (WMT), which has a long history of undercutting competitors, could change the way people shop and how other retailers price their merchandise. After all, Americans already increasingly are searching for the lowest prices on their tablets and smartphones while in checkout aisles.

Shoppers do this so often that big retailers that include behemoths such as Target (TGT) and Best Buy (BBY) have started offering to match the lower prices of rivals -- but only if shoppers do the research on their own. The idea behind Walmart's online feature, on the other hand, is to do the legwork for customers.

The tool isn't revolutionary. For instance, Citibank (C) launched a program two years ago that sends Citi credit card customers a check for the difference if it finds a lower price from an online retailer. But Walmart is the first traditional retailer to offer such a program, and if it's successful, others may follow.

Duncan MacNaughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer for Walmart Stores' U.S. discount division told The Associated Press in an exclusive interview that shoppers are looking for "technological answers to saving them money and time."

Walmart, which declined to comment on when the program would be rolled out nationwide, said it's hoping the online tool will build more confidence among Walmart shoppers that it has the best price whenever they shop in stores.

The company built its business on offering the lowest prices on staples such as milk, bread and laundry detergent. But Walmart's "every day low price" model is under attack from online king Amazon.com (AMZN) and other competitors that sometimes offer items cheaper.
On top of that, the retailer's primarily lower-income customers continue to cut back on spending during the economic recovery.

As a result, Walmart's U.S. discount division recorded its fourth consecutive quarter of declines in revenue at stores opened at least a year, a critical yardstick for measuring a retailer's health. The discounter also has seen a decline in the number of shoppers going to its stores.

Walmart has had a price matching strategy for several years. In 2011, it simplified the policy by making sure workers have the advertised prices of competitors on hand at the register, eliminating the need for shoppers to bring in an ad from a rival store.

Walmart said the idea for Savings Catcher was born last year during a focus group. The idea instantly resonated with the group, the retailer said, and by last summer, Walmart was testing it in four markets on an invitation-only basis. In late February, the company began rolling it out to the seven markets that also include Charlotte, N.C., Huntsville, Ala., Minneapolis, and Lexington, Ky.

Comparing Prices

Here's how the tool works: A customer has to set up an account on Walmart.com, then logs onto the Savings Catcher page on www.walmart.com/ and type in the number on their receipt. Shoppers need to register the number within seven days of purchase. Savings Catcher compares prices of every item on the receipt to a database of advertised prices of competitors. The database is provided by an undisclosed third party that analyzes retail ads.

The prices at Walmart stores are matched to competitive stores based on geographic location, but not online retailers. For example, in Atlanta, Walmart compares prices to nearly 20 rivals, including Aldi, CVS (CVS), Food Lion (DEG), Target and Dollar General (DG). The tool doesn't include purchases on store label brands or those made online. The tool also doesn't apply to general merchandise like clothing or electronic gadgets, but does include groceries and things like detergent.

The savings are issued on a Walmart online gift card and the customers can accumulate savings or use the credit immediately. Shoppers can use the credit in stores or online by printing out the gift card receipt.

Walmart's MacNaughton said preliminary data shows that in the markets that have the Savings Catcher, shoppers are putting more items in their basket and the checkout lines are faster because people don't feel like they have to pull out their smartphones or circular ads to check prices.

Anne Jurchak was part of Walmart's focus group. She said she's been getting back $5 to $7 on her weekly trips to Walmart in which she typically spends $200 to $250. Jurchak has used those savings to buy holiday stocking stuffers and a case for her e-reader.

As a part-time marriage counselor and mother of two sons, Jurchak, 41, a said she's never had time to take advantage of price matching.

"They're doing the work for me," said Jurchak, who lives in Belmont, N.C. "The only thing they're not doing is putting the groceries away."


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Erica Salcuni

Walmart is Satan's latrine.

May 23 2014 at 10:04 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rachel R. Powell

I worked as a Walmart cashier for 5 summers, and you can definitely save a lot of money by price matching! Here's an article I wrote about how to do it successfully: http://www.ordinaryhomemaker.com/walmart-price-matching-easier-than-couponing-2/
- Rachel at OrdinaryHomemaker.com

April 01 2014 at 8:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
derek.huffaker

Stopped shopping here when they told me they won't match their own online prices. Also they will not sell alcohol unless everyone with you is over 21 (even your own children). Not worth my time

March 31 2014 at 10:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
toosmart4u

I do not shop at wal mart or any large mortar store for I want to buy American and can only find my items on line. wal mart says they are going to bring in American made but I do not trust them

March 24 2014 at 9:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mr. ROC

We shop at Wally World only as a last resort. Our local Fred Myers and Safeway may be a few pennies more on things, but the stores are clean and the staff very nice and helpful....more than worth the few cents extra. Magazines are the same price in either store's. Our local farmers Market had apples for $1.39 a pound. Same item at WMT, $3.49!!!! a pound.

March 23 2014 at 11:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gordbzz231

thing about walmarts is they say there is an item on sale, as advertised, but dont mark what price its supposed to be.

March 23 2014 at 9:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gordbzz231

i am an athiest and shop walmarts every day

March 23 2014 at 9:25 PM Report abuse -3 rate up rate down Reply
bzkbz16

Ya, right... I hate Walmart. 20 registers and only 1 or 2 opened most of the time. I am a Republican what ever that has to do with WassMart!

March 23 2014 at 5:25 PM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
Lillian

Wal-Mart is the place to go, and I am a Democrat.

March 23 2014 at 3:51 PM Report abuse -4 rate up rate down Reply
progressivehoax

Democrats trash Wal-Mart on a daily basis, then shop there in the evening in hopes no one see's the Obama/Biden bumper stickers.

March 23 2014 at 2:31 PM Report abuse -2 rate up rate down Reply