Walmart Wants to Win the Digital Wallet War with Walmart Pay

Ever since the launch of Apple Pay in October 2014, the pressure has been on high street merchants to adopt support for digital wallets. Indeed, it was little under a year later that Google’s answer to Apple Pay emerged with Android Pay in September 2015. Samsung Pay also appeared in the same year, thus completing the trio that gave rise to the digital wallet wars that proliferated in 2016.

“Digital wallets are quickly becoming mainstream,” said Leslie McNamara, Managing Director of Partner Management, Citi Retail Services, in a statement early last year. “Tech-savvy shoppers are increasingly demanding seamless, omnichannel retail experiences and looking for solutions that deliver this. There’s no question 2016 will be a pivotal year as digital wallets gain more widespread acceptance.”

Consumers are clearly becoming more comfortable with making in-store mobile payments, with forecasted figures set only to increase in the coming years. The question is, however, who’s winning the war?

Apple Pay Repeat Users Drop

Apple Pay is the digital wallet that has been in the US market for the longest time. However, despite the fact that the number of people installing Apple Pay and using it at least once was the highest it’s ever been in 2016, repeat usage has dropped significantly.

Stats released at Innovation Project 2016 reveal that repeat usage of Apple Pay have been going down since March 2015. A survey of Apple Pay users by PYMNTS – in partnership with InfoScout – reveal a number of reasons for such a slump, the top 2 of which being that people either simply “forget” to use the service (21%), or “lacked certainty about whether or not the store accepted the payment method” (16%).

And there are other factors at play, too – not least in the fact that Apple Pay now faces a host of emerging competitors. Android Pay and Samsung Pay naturally capture a share of the mobile payments market – but, perhaps more significantly, are the US retailers entering the arena with offers of their own mobile payment services made available exclusively to their customers.

Enter Walmart Pay

The first such retailer was Walmart with its unveiling of Walmart Pay in December 2015. Initially available in only a small number of stores in Northwest Arkansas, a nationwide rollout of Walmart Pay to all 4,600 stores was completed in July 2016.

The potential for a store like Walmart to succeed in the digital wallet space in areas where the likes of Apple Pay et al are proving to struggle is huge. For starters, 140 million Americans shop at Walmart each week, and the Walmart app – where the Walmart Pay feature resides – is already used by 22 million customers as they shop each month. There is no concern amongst these individuals about “forgetting” to use the application, nor indeed about “lacking any certainty” that the store accepts the payment method.

Figures released by Walmart confirm: Payments made through the Walmart app jumped 45% following the rollout (not a huge surprise, granted, considering the additional opportunity presented to consumers), with 88% of the transactions coming from repeat users. The application received great reviews, too, with 82% of users saying they would recommend Walmart Pay, and 75% awarding five stars in app stores.

“There is something very powerful about the ease and simplicity of Walmart Pay,” said Daniel Eckert, senior vice president, services, Walmart U.S. “What’s even more powerful though, is what this means for our customers. We want to make every day easier for busy families. We’re connecting all the parts of Walmart into one seamless shopping experience with great stores, easy pickup, fast delivery, frictionless checkout and apps and websites that are simple to use.”

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Added Value with Additional In-app Features

The fact that Walmart Pay nests within the Walmart app provides further assurances that customers will be prompted to use the service. The app brims with additional convenience-oriented features, including the ability to refill prescriptions at the Walmart pharmacy, save wish lists, store shopping lists and organize online orders.

When shoppers are in a Walmart store, however, the pay button appears in the app – available, it must be noted, for both Android and iOS. This is made possible through the fact that all Walmart stores are geofenced – meaning that the app “knows” when a customer is in store and automatically switches on the in-store mode, which enables mobile payment.

“We are making mobile payments a reality for so many customers because it’s not dependent on a certain payment method or a certain device,” a spokeswoman for Walmart told Mobile Strategies 360.

In addition, the Walmart app automatically prompts each shopper to submit their digital receipts to Savings Catcher – another Walmart tool that scans competitors’ prices and guarantees shoppers a refund (on a Walmart gift card) equal to the difference if a competitor is offering items at a lower cost.

With the mobile payments landscape becoming increasingly fragmented, and with Apple Pay et al still struggling to truly take off, Walmart has crafted its own solution for customers that it seems people are actually willing to use. As ever, convenience is key, and with an app that already provides practical functionality in abundance to 22 million customers, much of the onboarding battle has already been won. The last word goes to Eckert:

“Walmart Pay is just the beginning. We’re building deeper relationships with our customers across our ecosystem and are looking forward to delivering new tools like Walmart Pay that allow them to use the Walmart App as their remote control for a faster, more convenient shopping experience.”

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About John Waldron: John Waldron is a technology and business writer for markITwrite digital content agency, based in Cornwall, UK. He writes regularly across all aspects of marketing and tech, including SEO, social media, FinTech, IoT, apps and software development.

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