Walmart in some markets has launched a new price comparison tool, The Savings Catcher, that enables shoppers to instantly conduct extensive local price checks.
After being tested last summer in four markets on an invitation-only basis, Savings Catcher was rolled out to seven markets: Dallas, San Diego, Atlanta, Charlotte, Huntsville, Minneapolis and Lexington.
Here's how it works:
An undisclosed third-party comes up with local competitor prices across channels. In Minneapolis, for instance, those compared include: Aldi, Cub Foods, CVS, Family Dollar, Hy-Vee, IGA, Rainbow Foods, Shopko, Target and Walgreens.
The tool compares prices on 80,000 food and household products, excluding general merchandise like apparel or electronic gadgets. Online prices are not compared. Prices are matched only on branded items that are published as "on sale" by competitors. That means neither private label products nor non-sale prices are in the mix. Loyalty savings such as many found at drug stores also are not compared.
Customers still have the ability to match prices at the register by showing the cashier a competitor's ad.
Anne Jurchak, a 41-year-old mother and early tester, gets back $5 to $7 on her weekly trips to Walmart in which she typically spends $200 to $250.
"They're doing the work for me,'' Ms. Jurchak, who lives in Belmont, NC, told The Associated Press.
Having customers key in their sales receipts could provide rich insights around customer purchases. But the tool could particularly help Walmart recapture its low-cost leader reputation amid competitive threats from dollar stores, Aldi and others.
"The genius of Walmart's Savings Catcher program is that it adds a new dimension to its price match guarantee while continuing to make it incumbent upon shoppers to take the initiative," Carol Spieckerman, CEO of newmarketbuilders and a RetailWire BrainTrust panelist, told The City Wire. "Walmart can satisfy shoppers who are truly price sensitive and message value and price transparency to everyone else without lowering prices across the board. It offers the best of both worlds."
How effective will Walmart's Savings Catcher be in helping the chain improve its image as a low-price leader?