Wal-Mart to expand Savings Catcher, focus on capturing customers

story by Kim Souza
ksouza@thecitywire.com

Three months after Wal-Mart first announced the testing of a new savings tool to help drive more in-store traffic, the retailer said it’s expanding the guidelines and rolling out its Savings Catcher program nationwide later this summer.

The receipt comparison tool looks at competitors ads and gives customers an e-gift card for the difference when a competitor’s price is lower than what a Wal-Mart customer paid. Duncan Mac Naughton, chief merchandising officer at Walmart U.S., said Wednesday (June 4) that Savings Catcher automatically compares 80,000 grocery items, but in the coming months produce and general merchandise are to be added to the mix.

The program does not compare private label prices and there is no plan to include them, Wal-Mart said Wednesday.

“Our customers are savvier than ever when it comes to finding the best deals — they are using technology to do their research and spending hours clipping coupons. We knew there had to be an easier way,” Mac Naughton said. “Wal-Mart Savings Catcher offers customers yet another reason to trust us when it comes to help them save money. It brings greater price transparency to the market and gives our customers confidence that they are finding some of the best deals available in retail.”

Wal-Mart said the program has only been available on Walmart.com, but it will be accessible on Walmart’s mobile app.

Since March, in limited test cities, Mac Naughton said nearly one million receipts have been processed using Savings Catcher, making it the top rated concept tested to date by the retailer.

Gibu Thomas, senior vice president of Walmart mobile and global e-commerce, said Savings Catcher will also work in tandem with e-receipts that will allow the automatic uploading of receipts into Savings Catcher. With this data, predictive shopping lists will also be a possibility as the retailer continues to find ways to interact with its customers via technology. 

CUSTOMER IS KING
Wal-Mart spends a lot resources studying its customers and it gathers survey data from roughly 500,000 customers each month, according to Cindy Davis, director of global customer insights at Wal-Mart.

Davis said billions of data is constantly collected from point of sale, to syndicated market data and social listening platforms. The retailer collects 250 million social posts a month, which it uses to gain insights into shopping patterns and consumer mindsets.

“This data collection and analysis helps us to understand customers faster and be able to react better to their wants and needs. We conduct online focus groups through internet chats rooms with a moderator which gives us access to authentic shopper voices, which are shared across the company,” Davis said.

MILLENNIAL FOCUS
One group the retailer is focusing on are the Millennials, because of their future buying power — an estimated $5.3 trillion over the next four years. Wal-Mart's research indicates Millennial moms are planners, more so than their mothers. Savvy Millennials shop from a list with a detailed budget and price is a huge factor in their decision to buy, according to Davis.

This generation – typically born between 1982 and 2004 – is looking for more choices of healthier and fresh foods at an affordable price. 

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Jane Ewing, senior vice president of baby at Walmart U.S., said Millennials are informed shoppers, doing a lot of research online and talking with friends and families before buying larger items.

She said one of the criticisms Wal-Mart heard a while back from this generation was a lack of assortment of organic baby food, something the retailer is addressing with more products now in the pipeline.

A February 2010 report from Pew Research said this of Millennials: “They are more ethnically and racially diverse than older adults. They’re less religious, less likely to have served in the military, and are on track to become the most educated generation in American history.”

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