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These days, you can clip and redeem digital coupons at your local grocery store, at major drug store chains, dollar stores, warehouse stores like BJ’s Wholesale Club, big-box stores like Target and even at many gas station convenience stores. So why are we still unable to use digital coupons at Walmart, the world’s largest retailer?

It’s an age-old question among couponers. And now Walmart has an answer.

Walmart’s Canadian division has partnered with Inmar Intelligence to launch a new digital coupon program, expected to debut this coming October. It’s a first for Walmart, and it’s coming first for our friends north of the border. Could it be a trial run, a soft launch, a sign of things to come for Walmart’s American shoppers? Walmart and Inmar aren’t saying right now. But the fact that any Walmart division is launching a digital coupon program after years of resisting it, is itself significant.

“Introducing digital coupons to Walmart Canada’s customers is the latest way we’re helping Canadians to save money and live better,” Walmart Canada’s Vice President of Digital Marketing Sid Kapoor said in a statement. “Whether customers are shopping in-store or online, they’ll be able to access these coupons from some of their favorite brands in addition to our everyday low prices.”

For years, as digital coupon programs gained in popularity and grew from a curiosity to a common offering among all types of retailers, Walmart tended to prefer letting its everyday low prices speak for themselves. If its prices are already the lowest around, why promote the use of coupons and encourage shoppers to look for ways to reduce those low prices even further? Walmart accepts paper coupons, of course, but has never gone out of its way to offer store coupons, double-coupon promotions or other coupon-friendly perks that many grocery stores have offered – like digital coupons.

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That’s ever-so-slowly begun to change, as Walmart has been tiptoeing into the world of digital discounts. A decade ago, Walmart said it was considering offering digital coupons through its Scan & Go app – but the app didn’t last and the digital coupons never happened. Two years ago, the marketing technology company TPG Rewards introduced digital gift card offers that kind of worked like digital coupons, but weren’t really, but were close enough to allow it to announce that “Walmart now accepts digital coupons.”

But the biggest actual step that Walmart has taken toward offering digital discounts has been its partnership with the Ibotta cash-back app. Last year, Walmart launched “Walmart Rewards,” giving members of the Walmart+ paid subscription service access to Ibotta rebates that can be activated on Walmart’s website or app, and redeemed for discounts on future Walmart purchases. You essentially clip an offer, buy the product, and enjoy the savings – it’s the closest thing to a digital coupon that Walmart has ever offered.

Until now. “We are incredibly excited to collaborate with Walmart Canada to help bring even more value to Canadian shoppers,” Inmar Intelligence EVP & President of Incentives & Loyalty Rob Weisberg said in a statement. “As savings continue to become more prominent on the value chain for consumers, digital incentives can play a critical role in obtaining and maintaining brand loyalty amidst this highly competitive environment.”

It’s safe to say that Canadians don’t use or have access to coupons quite the way Americans do. There are far fewer paper coupons available there, and the notion of a digital coupon gallery featuring hundreds of brand offers to scroll through is not something Canadian shoppers are used to seeing. But that doesn’t mean Canadians aren’t looking for savings. A recent Inmar survey found that 78% of Canadian shoppers already base their shopping list on coupons and promotions, and 88% say they’d be interested in using a digital coupon. “The brands that make finding and using digital coupons will win with these shoppers,” Weisberg said.

Inmar already runs robust digital coupon programs for a number of U.S. retailers. It’s not known yet whether Walmart Canada’s digital coupon offerings will be quite as thorough as Americans are used to, or relatively modest like the digital coupons currently offered by Canada’s major grocery chains. Inmar, for one, is encouraging brands to get on board. “As Walmart Canada takes this significant step to help their shoppers save in more ways, brands have an opportunity to join the retailer’s new digital incentives program — adding an additional tactic to earn shopper dollars and build loyalty,” Weisberg said.

There are eight times as many people in the U.S. as in Canada, ten times as many Walmart superstore locations, and countless more coupons. By October, though, Canadian shoppers will have a leg up over American shoppers who’ve never been able to use a digital coupon at Walmart. And time will tell whether this Canadian experiment will prove successful enough to bring digital coupons to a Walmart near you.

Image source: Walmart Canada

One Comment

  1. I’m not happy with Walmart Canada having digital coupons.I don’t have a smart phone.Years ago when Walmart Canada had the opportunity to have paper coupon hangers they would have a paper advertisement instead of a having a coupon that other stores had.When they have a digital coupon on an item I want to buy then I will buy the item at another store.

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