A spokeswoman for Walmart acknowledged the program was under development but declined to provide further detail.
The rewards are available only to people using the Walmart app to make purchases online or in-store via Walmart Pay, so it captures purchase data for program users. Amazon and club store retailers already can link all, or virtually all, of their purchases to individual members or customers. Most supermarket and drug store competitors have loyalty programs that accomplish the same thing. And all that data has fueled the explosive growth of retail media.
‘Important strategic initiative’
“It’s an important strategic initiative for Walmart, which was seeing itself get farther and farther behind CVS and Target, which have the best loyalty programs in mainstream food, drug and discount store retail,” said Burt Flickinger, managing director of consultancy Strategic Resource Group.
He also sees the Rewards move complementing the Walmart partnership with Paramount+ announced last week, which gives Walmart+ members a free streaming subscription at no additional charge at a time when Amazon is raising prices for Prime.
The Walmart+ membership program, which provides free home delivery and other incentives for a $98 annual or $12.95 monthly fee, captures nearly all purchase data from members. But it’s still only used by 6% of U.S. adults, according to a CivicScience survey last week. That compares to 54% of adults with access to Amazon Prime video, now at $139 annually or $14.99 monthly as part of overall membership.
People need to be Walmart+ members to use Rewards at this point, and they need to use the app and their accounts at checkout in store. The accumulated rewards could help people pay for their annual or monthly membership, and the program should encourage more people to sign up.