Walmart’s Everyday High Price Strategy Online

It seems buying online from Walmart may end up costing a bit more than shopping in-store. According to news from The Wall Street Journal, the world’s biggest retailer has raised its prices for some grocery and household goods sold on its U.S. website, including boxes of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese, Colgate toothbrushes and bags of Purina dog food.

The move is not an entirely unheard of play in retail. Costco does something similar with its website. But for Walmart, the move is a bit more surprising, given its “everyday low prices” mantra.

For many items, the online and in-store prices will remain equal, according to Walmart, particularly its popular goods. But, according to internal sources, Walmart is experimenting with a new system that raises the cost of goods that would otherwise be unprofitable to ship.

In some cases, product listings on show an “online” and “in the store” price. Often, the online price matches Amazon.

“We always work to offer the best price online relative to other sites,” a Walmart spokeswoman said. “It simply costs less to sell some items in stores. Customers can access those store prices online when they choose to pick up the item in-store.”

The higher retail prices that disappear when customers go to a brick-and-mortar location might be a clever attempt to nudge more in-store shopping.

Walmart eCommerce efforts have gone from 0-60 very quickly in the last 18 months — a reality evident in the 60 percent increase in eCommerce sales seen in Walmart’s Q2 performance (Q3 data is not yet available)

Marc Lore, head of Walmart’s U.S. eCommerce unit, told investors in October that “this year should be the largest loss in eCommerce, and we’ll see slight improvement next year.”

Lore further noted at Walmart’s investor conference last month that for inexpensive items, “there’s no cheaper way to get these products to consumers than have them come in the store and pick it off the shelf themselves.”

He noted the goal is to get shoppers stepping into the stores for the best price and place larger orders online to offset the cost of shipment.


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