“Test, learn, fail and try again”, that is Walmart’s credo!
A review of its news before further announcements at the Retail Big Show (Retail Big Show, NYC, 17 to 20 January 2016)
In October 2015, Walmart was proud to announce that 24 million customers were using its mobile app every month. Walmart explains this “success” among other things by an explosion in the number of downloads between July and August 2014: from 4 to 14 million users in just one month thanks to the “Saving Catcher function” implemented in the app. Customers just scan their invoice after purchasing. Walmart undertakes to compare the prices of the products with those of the competition within 72 hours. If they are higher, the customer is refunded the difference with a gift card. The “Saving catcher” application had already been tested in 2012 and was revamped in the summer of 2014.
Another announcement that was written about extensively in late 2015 was the deployment of the Walmart Pay function in the American retailer’s application. Consumers are invited to pay for their purchases at checkout using Walmart’s mobile app. M-payment can be made by scanning a QR Code displayed on the store’s till with the smartphone’s camera. Walmart Pay is compatible with virtually all American payment cards and Walmart gift cards.
Walmart intends once and for all to pull the rug out from under Apple Pay, which so far it has blocked in its store network, by:
> encouraging swift deployment of the solution (widespread introduction of the service is scheduled for 2016) so that its tens of millions of consumers quickly switch to Walmart Pay.
> integrating “other electronic wallets in the future”. An allusion to the “MCX” story, a collective of American retailers led by Walmart that has since 2012 been working to develop CurrentC.
The fact remains that this is not an isolated initiative. In 2012, Walmart had already launched its “Scan & Go” application: this let customers scan items with their smartphone then pay on an automatic payment terminal via a QR Code. The application was tested in 300 stores for 2 years then shelved. Have users’ habits become more mature since then? That’s not certain. By way of example, the adoption rate for Apple Pay had many ups and downs before settling at 16.6% of eligible Apple customers (Iphone 6 owners) one year later, in October 2015.
In this respect it is interesting to look at how Walmart’s mobile apps have evolved over the last three years into a veritable personal shopping assistant.
Want to collect an order in store? Just check-in in the store to indicate your presence. An employee receives this notification and invites you to come and collect your order at pickup when it is ready. No time to go to the pharmacy? Order with your app by scanning the product’s barcode. Make savings with the “Saving Catcher” function, etc.
At present the application features 9 practical and useful functions for consumers to guarantee pride of place in their smartphones. And that is paying off, as according to the latest rating published by Comscore, it is one of the most downloaded retailer applications.
The rating clearly confirms that what consumers download are applications they use in a daily basis. Unsurprisingly, the best-rated ones are those linked to social media. But also Starbucks or Fitbit, which engage regularly with consumers: having a coffee every day or monitoring one’s sporting activity at regular intervals.
So clearly the payment function can only enhance the user experience. It is not certain though that it will be considered by retailers, who focus more on their own need to cut their banking costs or thwart Apple Pay, Samsung Pay or Google Pay. In its Customer Relations Trends report, Echangeur pointed up “the disappearance of the transaction”, which has been the key to success for Uber. It may be that a new experience could emerge by regarding payment disconnected from the time of purchase.