Walmart is testing a program that uses its mobile app, website and tracking technology to give back to customers who paid too much for something at the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer.

Called Savings Catcher, the online and mobile program uses internally developed technology to search other retailer's ads and give customers an e-gift card for the difference if a competitor's price is lower than what the consumer paid at Walmart.

"We want to be at the intersection of physical and digital commerce and this product helps us do that," says Molly Blakeman, a Walmart spokesperson. "That is where we are going to win."

Consumers use Savings Catcher by entering a receipt number, which appears near the bottom of Walmart's receipts, and the date of the shopping trip. The program looks at the eligible items purchased at Walmart and compares the price to the weekly listings of local retailers. If Savings Catcher finds a lower price, Walmart sends an e-gift card automatically.

The system looks at rival chains such as Aldi, Harris-Teeter, Target, Walgreens and HEB. "Savings Catcher was created based on feedback from consumers, so it's something that they are looking for," Blakeman says.

Savings Catcher is in pilot in seven markets and will be deployed nationally by the end of the summer at Walmart locations (Sam's Club is not currently part of the program). The program's scope will also expand from its current mix of grocery (excluding produce) and consumables to also provide savings for produce and general merchandise.

The tool, originally a Walmart.com service before it expanded to mobile, is an attempt to give consumers less reason to shop around in nearby stores or online. "Savings Catcher gives consumers confidence while they are shopping, and they don't have to look around for lower prices," Blakeman says.

Walmart also recently introduced Walmart-2-Walmart, a cash transfer service developed in partnership with Euronet Worldwide's subsidiary Ria Money Transfer. The service allows U.S. cash and PIN debit transfers between Walmart locations. The retailer in April also entered a prepaid partnership with American Express.

Walmart's transaction and cash management products often draw the attention of the banking community given the retailer's many payments and financial services offerings. Walmart has stated it is not interested in becoming a fully regulated bank. 

"We can leverage or size, scale and technology to implement new innovations that will help customers execute stuff like transfers or help them with their shopping experience," Blakeman says.

Walmart's integration of this service into its mobile app creates an important "mobile moment" by enabling real-time price comparison, says Denee Carrington, an analyst at Forrester Research.

"Walmart should build upon that 'mobile moment' by delivering a convenient payments experience. It should deliver a mobile gift card that consumers can always have with them and access in-store or online for their next shopping trip," Carrington says.

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