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Will mobile-driven price matching accelerate as Walmart doubles down?

Walmart is reportedly discontinuing price matching from a printed circular in 500 stores, but the retailer will continue to offer customers at these stores an in-application equivalent, an approach that could accelerate as more retailers recognize the benefits.

Walmart is currently the only major retailers offering a mobile price-matching program although Best Buy is offering a similar service in less formalized way. More retailers are likely to follow suit as they recognize the benefits of providing in-app services that keep valuable shoppers coming back.

“It’s clear that Walmart knows that its most loyal – and valuable – customer is the mobile app user, and the retailer is willing to extend preferential treatment such as price matching to those customers exclusively,” said Maya Mikhailov, chief marketing officer and co-founder at GPShopper.

“I expect to see more of this trend as retailers understand the ROI of their mobile applications in regards to lifting annual spend from their top customers,” she said.

Price-conscious consumers
Walmart reportedly said this week that, in 500 unspecified store locations, shoppers will no longer be able to present a printed circular from another retailer to get that same, lower price on items sold at Walmart.

However, shoppers will able to continue to use the Savings Catcher program in the retailer’s app. The program enables users to enter a Walmart receipt and have the cost of their purchases compared against advertised prices at other retailers. If Savings Catcher finds a lower price, the shopper is refunded the appropriate amount via a Walmart ecard.

The week that the program launched in the retailer’s app back in 2014, it pushed the app to the top of the Lifestyle category on the Apple App Store for the first time (see story), pointing to how shoppers are embracing mobile conveniences.

“Mobile price matching programs are gaining traction with consumers,” Ms. Mikhailov said. “This puts the ease of Web-based programs in the palm of their hand while actually shopping in physical stores.

“Also, these mobile programs benefit the retailers, which are more likely to make the sale with the added convenience of having the product instantly available for a shopper,” she said.

Fully loaded apps
Outside of the retail sector, Citi’s Price Rewind program is another example of leveraging digital technology for price matching. Citi cardholders can sign up and have the program do a 60-day search for a lower price on their purchases.

For Walmart, the news is the latest example of how the retailer is driving shoppers to its app, having recently launched the Walmart Pay mobile wallet (see story).

“While mobile’s connection to online shopping is clear, there are so many ways it can still be utilized to improve the brick and mortar experience,” said Dan Slavin, CEO of CodeBroker.

“Walmart has always touted their price-matching and this transition to a mobile-only model positions them as a leader in this space once again,” he said.

“There are a lot of business reasons behind Walmart’s decision, but like all paper to mobile transitions in the retail space there are clear efficiency savings. Plus more and more of shoppers rely on their mobile phones for all things retail – shopping, coupons, and, now, for Walmart – price-matching.”