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29 September 2017
Electronic payments market is no longer a place for payments-focused companies, it is increasingly joined by players from other industries wishing to keep the profit from transaction processing in-house. Walmart followed the trend long before set by world’s largest online retailer, Amazon, which successfully evolved from the Internet-based bookstore into the high-end tech giant providing a large scale of services and products, including electronic payments. How successful was Walmart’s commitment to the modern course of going mobile?
In late 2015 Walmart announced its plans to launch a Mobile Wallet application, and since then it had been testing its Walmart Pay service in select locations before commercial rollout across the nation later in 2016. Now Walmart Pay is accessible at all of its 4,672 stores across the United States.
In fact there is no such a separate mobile wallet, as Walmart Pay is rather a payment function coming inside the general purpose shopping application, Walmart App. Walmart App in turn may be downloaded for both iOS and Android devices. Walmart Pay supports any credit and debit cards and, being the retailer’s proprietary product can be used only for purchases made at any store of Walmart chain. At the moment Walmart is not accepting other mobile wallets.
To start using Walmart Pay service a user needs to pass the registration process on Walmart.com and subscribe for a free account. Many users notice the inconvenience of the subscription procedure, as it requires using a web-browser to load the retailer’s page instead of performing all required sign-up steps within the application.
After the account is created, a user may add his/her preferred payment method: credit, debit, prepaid card or Walmart gift card. This may sound convenient as customers do not need to carry their plastic cards with them, which means their cards won’t be accidentally lost or skimmed by scammers. As the card data is not stored in the mobile application, this suggests additional security of user’s money. Cards are linked only to Walmart.com account. Walmart Pay cannot be linked to user’s checking account at any bank.
Account editing procedure is finished with the system instruction to create a PIN code for the purpose of the wallet security. Alternatively, users may select TouchID function. After this Walmart Pay is ready to use. Customers may find Walmart Pay icon at the bottom of their Walmart App menu.
Using the service
As a customer proceeds with his/her merchandise to the checkout, the transactions are completed with the use of QR-codes instead of NFC-technology applied by most mobile wallets. To make the payment, a user opens Walmart Pay function in the mobile application by entering the PIN-code or using TouchID, then screens the QR-code, and the checkout operator puts the finishing touches pressing the buttons on the cash register. If the transaction is successful, user’s mobile device produces a sound.
Customers may select whether they want to have a paper printed receipt or go home with a digital receipt stored inside the application. Paper receipts may be separately requested from the cashier.
What’s the whole point of it?
Walmart Pay has still a long way to go before becoming a competitive service, because it actually features no explicit advantages for shoppers. Quite the contrary, it brings a number of crabs and inconveniences, spoiling the whole shopping experience.
First of all, Walmart App itself may mislead a consumer walking around the physical store. Walmart App supposedly has a feature of item location prompts, which is supposed to provide information to a user where the sought item is located up to a certain shelf in the store. In practice the application tells a user that the physical store, where he/she is currently shopping, has the item looked for, and suggests to Add it to the cart. As a customer presses the Add to cart button, he/she is offered to order home delivery.
Besides, Walmart has no incentive, cashback or reward program to encourage its consumers to use Walmart Pay. If Walmart really wants to compete with Apple Pay or other mobile payment services, it would better think of considering and launching some perks scheme along with other interesting functions to lift the application’s efficiency level. In contrast, Starbucks app features an array of rewards and loyalty points for consumers.
The only bone thrown to appease consumers is the Savings Catcher feature. It compares the prices of the items purchased at any Walmart location or at its online store with the prices of the same item sold by the rival retail chains. If there is some difference, i.e. if Walmart’s competitors sell the item at a lower price, a difference is returned to a consumer in the form of Savings Catcher Reward Dollars, which could be spent for purchases at Walmart.
Exciting articles several times a month