Bentonville, Ark. – Walmart will launch a post-purchase price-match program this summer that searches competitors’ circulars and reimburses customers who paid more for the advertised products.
The initiative will be formally announced here on Thursday in advance of the discounter’s annual shareholders meeting on Friday.
The price comparison tool, dubbed Savings Catcher, is presently being tested online in seven markets. Walmart plans to roll it out nationwide this summer and will also make it available on its mobile app.
At launch, the program will encompass about 80,000 grocery and consumables items from retailers including Aldi, Harris-Teeter, Target, Walgreens and HEB. General merchandise and produce will be added in the coming months.
Customers can employ the tool by visiting Walmart.com/savingscatcher or by launching the Walmart app, and entering the receipt number and date from their sales receipt.
Using proprietary technology developed by its @WalmartLabs digital division in Silicon Valley, Savings Catcher compares the price paid for eligible items to the advertised prices in the weekly print ads of major local retailers. If the program finds an advertised price that is lower than what was paid for the same exact item, customers will receive a Walmart e-gift card for the difference.
Walmart said the comparison tool will bring greater price transparency to the market and eliminate the need to visit multiple stores to find the best deals.
“Our customers are savvier than ever,” said Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising and marketing officer, Walmart U.S. “They are using technology to do their research and spending hours clipping coupons. We knew there had to be an easier way.”
Nearly 1 million receipts have been processed using Savings Catcher since the pilot launched earlier this spring in Atlanta; Charlotte, N.C.; Dallas; Huntsville, Ala.; Lexington, Ky.; Minneapolis; and San Diego. Walmart plans to also offer customers e-receipts and the option to instantly load their purchases into the tool, and will eventually add other digital innovations like e-coupons and automated shopping lists.
“We are going to win by integrating digital and physical,” Mac Naughton said. “Savings Catcher and its expanding capabilities are just one example of that. We are well-positioned to innovate and lead in the tech space, and you’ll see more of this.”
The announcement comes during “Shareholders Week,” a four-day series of events on Walmart’s home turf in northwest Arkansas that leads up to Friday’s 14,000-attendee shareholders meeting at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville. The itinerary includes concerts, celebrity appearances, sales associate pep rallies, management presentations and store walk-throughs, all under the theme of “serving customers through innovation.”
Past shareholder meetings have also served as a lightning rod for dissident investors and disaffected workers who have held on-site protests over such issues as wages, healthcare, career advancement and management reprisals.
This year promises to be no different, with a union-backed employee group called Walmart Moms reportedly en route for a rally; another union-supported workers group, OUR Walmart, agitating to unseat founding family scion Rob Walton as chairman; and strikes planned today at Walmart stores in 20 cities.
The shareholder meeting is also set against the backdrop of stagnant first-quarter comp sales for Walmart U.S. and Sam’s Club, with no improvement projected for the current reporting period.