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Walmart Savings Catcher

(UPDATE: Walmart’s Savings Catcher goes nationwide beginning August 4th.)

If you’d like Walmart to do your price-matching for you, you’ll soon have the chance. The retail giant has revealed plans to roll out a new and improved “Savings Catcher” program nationally – along with digital coupons, e-receipts and more.

Savings Catcher automatically compares Walmart’s prices with offers in local competitors’ sale ads. If you pay more for something at Walmart than you would have at another store, Savings Catcher will refund you the difference.

Walmart introduced the concept in March, to just a handful of test markets. Since then, shoppers in Atlanta, Charlotte, Lexington, Dallas, Huntsville, San Diego and Minneapolis have used Savings Catcher nearly a million times, in search of extra savings. Now, Walmart plans a national launch of the program later this summer.

“Our customers are savvier than ever when it comes to finding the best deals,” Walmart’s chief merchandising and marketing officer Duncan Mac Naughton said in a statement. “They are using technology to do their research and spending hours clipping coupons. We knew there had to be an easier way.”

Whether you find Savings Catcher easier – or more lucrative – than using coupons and checking supermarket sales circulars, depends on how committed you are to the concept.

The way it works is, you make your purchases at Walmart, then visit the Savings Catcher website or mobile app. You enter a number printed at the bottom of your receipt, or use the app to scan the receipt’s bar code, and the Savings Catcher gets to work. It goes line-by-line through your receipt, checking each item’s price against local competitors’ offerings. If any items are on sale somewhere, for less than what you paid for it at Walmart, you get a rebate in the form of an electronic Walmart gift card.

Right now, Savings Catcher is equipped to compare prices on about 80,000 “grocery and consumables purchases”. And there’s a lot of fine print, which you can read more about here. As the national rollout approaches, the program will expand to include produce and general merchandise.

It’s basically a high-tech version of Walmart’s existing ad match program – if one item on your shopping list is on sale at Target, CVS has a special deal on a second item, and a third is on sale at the local supermarket, you don’t have to run all over town to get the best deals. Walmart will match them all. And Savings Catcher will compare the prices automatically, so you don’t have to.

Savings Catcher offers customers yet another reason to trust us when it comes to helping them save,” Mac Naughton said. “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.”

Retail analysts are divided over whether the idea is brilliant, or a gimmick. “The Savings Catcher is something concrete that can’t help but boost Walmart’s low cost leader perception,” said RetailWire contributor Mohamed Amer. “Seems to be a lot of work for a little savings,” retorted Ed Rosenbaum. Added Stephen Needel, “it does take some of the arguing with a customer service person out of the equation, but you still have to buy the stuff at Walmart first.”

“Automatic” as it may be, the tool does still require a bit of work. You have to upload your receipts, after all, and then remember to redeem your gift cards, or you won’t see any savings at all. Other retailers, including supermarkets in Britain, have automated the process to the point that they compare prices with competitors right at the register and give you a coupon for the difference on the spot.

But Walmart says improvements are on the way. Customers who opt for digital receipts – another new Walmart initiative – will be able to sync their e-receipts with the Savings Catcher app so they’re uploaded automatically. “Savings Catcher and eReceipts will work together and lead to further innovations like eCoupons and automated shopping lists,” Walmart promises.

“We are going to win by integrating digital and physical,” Mac Naughton concluded. “Savings Catcher and its expanding capabilities are just one example of that.”

In the end, Walmart shoppers – and Savings Catcher users – will be the judge of that.

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One Comment

  1. Thanks! I had no idea that this was going on in my area.-I ran and collected my receipt and entered it. WE shall see. 🙂

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