While most successful apps of the past few years have tried to reinvent how consumers use their smartphones, Walmart took a different tactic when it came to getting its app into the hearts and minds of its customers.
In an interview with Quartz, Walmart officials explained what drove its explosion of users — with more than 400 percent annual growth. Some developers spend their entire lives chasing that kind of addictive functionality, but Helen Vaid, vice president of customer experience at Walmart.com, told Quartz that her company simply gave consumers the ability to use the app for something they were already doing themselves anyway.
"Customers would come to the stores with the 15 flyers they look through every week to find the best prices on toilet paper,” Vaid said. “We thought, what if Walmart could take away that need to scour the market every time you walked into a store?"
Called the Savings Catcher, the feature in Walmart’s app scans receipts and cross-references prices with competitors. The savings don’t lead to massive dollar amounts for customers, but that clearly hasn’t mattered. Rather, Walmart’s Savings Catcher provides a positive feedback loop for consumers: shop at Walmart, use the app, see your savings, repeat.
"Savings Catcher offers customers yet another reason to trust us when it comes to helping them save,” Duncan Mac Naughton, former chief merchandising officer for Walmart, said in a 2014 press release. “It brings greater price transparency to the market and gives our customers confidence that they are finding some of the best deals available in retail."
Strong performance within its app bodes well for Walmart’s lagging eCommerce performance, but all may be for naught if the retailer can’t find a way to keep the customer experience in the app fresh.