How game-changing is Walmart’s new Savings Catcher?

8/5/14

Working at Target, it seems fitting to be biased against our competitors. A personal lesson I’ve learned throughout life is to look up to competition as inspiration and motivation, not as an enemy. Walmart’s new savings tool went live yesterday throughout its stores across the United States. Let me warn you: it sounds fierce. This highly-talked about new tool is Walmart strutting its extremely-low-prices ability. It’s called Savings Catcher, and it basically was created to boast how low Walmart’s prices are compared to all the other stores in your area.

How does it work? After a Walmart shopping trip, the customer goes to either the site or through the Walmart app on her phone, and then enters the receipt number and date. The apps allows for an easier user experience with the ability to scan the code on your receipt instead of manually entering it in. Savings Catcher then takes its time (up to 72 hours) to see all that you bought, and then compares your purchases’ costs to advertised prices at Walmart competitors near you. Savings Catcher is localized in the way that it compares only items which appear in circulars/weekly ads of stores near the Walmart you purchased from (for example, in Minneapolis, it might scan the ads of Cub Foods, whereas in Houston, it would see what HEB nearby is advertising to you). If Savings Catcher finds that something you bought is cheaper at one of these other stores (again, advertised cheaper), the price difference is debited to your account. The customer can then collect this difference in the form of a Walmart eGift Card.

This sounds amazing, doesn’t it? You see that milk is cheaper at Kroger this week, but everything else you buy is usually cheaper at Walmart, so why make a separate trip for that gallon of milk when you can save that money through Savings Catcher? Of course, Walmart isn’t just giving away free money. They were smart about it – the eGift Card can only be redeemed at Walmart, and of course, you will spend more than the amount on the card (you’ll have to; otherwise you’ll always have money leftover on the gift card). Voila!  Instant incremental sales!

Walmart has tried to close as many loopholes as it could think of. The FAQ page on the Savings Catcher site says that when comparing prices for the products at Walmart’s competitors, the advertised prices must currently be being advertised (not just a low price that is occurring, but isn’t being advertised). In addition, the ads must be valid at the time you made your Walmart purchase and include a specific item price. To stack on conditions even further, there are more caveats for Savings Catcher. To sum it up, here is a list of what doesn’t count towards Savings Catcher: store brands, deli, bakery and weighed items like meat, electronics, media and gaming, toys, sporting goods, housewares, small appliances, home décor, bedding, books and magazines, apparel and shoes, jewelry, furniture, office supplies and seasonal products, tobacco, firearms, gasoline, tires, prescription drugs, optical and photo products and services, or products that require a service agreement such as wireless, automotive or financial products. Wait, so what can I save money on?

Apart from all the hoops you have to jump in order to make the most money out of Savings Catcher, it truly is a gutsy and clever concept. The pervasiveness and hands-on interactivity of this tool is generating a lot of media, especially consumer-generated. Since Savings Catcher is essentially Walmart’s confidence statement of their unbeatably low prices, it will keep Walmart’s image of affordability sustained in consumer’s perceptions. Shoppers already know that Walmart is the retailer for budget shopping, and this move only solidifies the 1st place spot in Price. Planet Retail remarks that the Savings Catcher tool “enables the retailer to collect much-needed shopper-level data. We expect the mining and implementation of shopper analytics could create a more powerful Walmart.” That sounds scary: “A more powerful Walmart.”

What are your thoughts of the new Savings Catcher tool? Does it bug you that you get a Walmart eGift Card back? Does the Savings Catcher make you want to shop at Walmart if you usually don’t?

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