One of the primary elements contributing to Walmart’s massive success is its low prices.
But it appears that customers at hundreds of stores nation-wide are losing the ability to shop at Walmart and still take advantage of a competitor’s lower price.
That’s right. No more price matching.
Walmart began quietly eliminating the price matching option in June when it got rid of this popular perk at 500 stores. Three-hundred additional stores were added to that list on August 1st.
Additionally, Walmart has refused to identify exactly which stores will no longer honor competitors’ ads. And since Walmart is remaining type lipped about which stores — or even which regions — are affected by this policy change, the only way for customers to know if the store they frequent is still offering price match is by going into the store.
A Walmart representative told Consumerist that in lieu of the Ad Match program, the 800 stores will offer new “significant, long-term” rollbacks on thousands of items that were commonly price-matched, such as certain consumable items, groceries and paper products.
The Walmart rep went on to say:
“We understand Ad Match provided an additional layer of reassurance for customers,” the rep said. “That’s why we’re working hard to deliver upfront low prices that customers can trust every day of the week.”
Firms implement price-matching to cultivate customer loyalty and reinforce the perception of price competitiveness but the way Walmart has quietly done away with the policy—with very little fanfare– is leaving customers dazed and confused.
So what is Walmart doing?
While the answer as to why Walmart has decided to do away with this program is still a bit ambiguous, president and CEO Doug McMillon hinted at a possible reason during the company’s last quarterly conference call in May.
He told investors, “Better expense management in the quarter gave us increased confidence to initiate our next phase of U.S. price investment earlier than planned. Over time we intend to lower prices further in a deliberate strategic way.”
Translation? They are doing it to appease stock holders. Investors are screaming for more predictability.
“Pricing certainty will be welcomed in the investment community,” said John Canally, chief economic strategist for LPL Financial. “It’s a fierce environment for market share among retailers,” he said, “and investors today have a sensitive radar for any signs of deflation. If you’re constantly on a one-off basis making the pricing uncertain, it doesn’t help,” Canally said.
The change is upsetting to many of the customers who are aware of the change. Several comments on Facebook and other social media platforms indicate that consumers don’t see the value in remaining loyal to Walmart. They are also upset by the way the super chain is going about eliminating the price match program–quietly and covertly.
The Moral of the Story?
If a competitor has an item at a cheaper price–buy it.