Walmart unveils rewards program for Walmart+ members

    • Walmart launched Walmart Rewards as a new benefit to its Walmart+ membership, Chris Cracchiolo, senior vice president and general manager of Walmart+, wrote in a company blog. 
    • Shoppers can earn and redeem rewards both in-store and online. For online shoppers, customers can tap the “add reward” option under eligible items on Walmart’s site or app to claim the savings and then apply their rewards balance to their purchase at checkout. 
    • The item-specific rewards, powered by Ibotta Performance Network, come at a time when Walmart is bolstering the perks tied to Walmart+. They also align with advertising trends emphasizing value in a tough economy.  

    The new item-specific rewards are helping Walmart build out ways to reward Walmart+ member loyalty, Cracchiolo said. Walmart plans to integrate the program with its growing digital advertising business by allowing suppliers to promote product savings within sponsored ads.

    “Combining the power of Sponsored Products with item-specific rewards will enable suppliers to reap the benefits of both marketing strategies and help them to better engage with members and provide even deeper savings,” Walmart noted in a separate post on the website for its U.S. media business, Walmart Connect.

    Walmart Connect cited trends that could benefit deals-oriented advertising strategies. Over two-thirds (67%) of customers surveyed by the group said inflation is driving them to spend more time seeking discounts, and 32% are planning to switch brands.  

    While advertising transactions tied to the program will still be done through Walmart Connect, Ibotta is sourcing and supporting the actual item rewards through its own network. Brands must work directly with Ibotta to feature offers available at the national level and at other retailers outside Walmart. 

    Walmart noted that shoppers can find rewards connected to “hundreds of bestselling items, from groceries to household goods to pet care and beyond.” Shoppers can’t redeem rewards for certain categories, including prescription-related products, alcohol and lottery tickets, per the company’s website.

    To redeem rewards in-store, shoppers have to scan a QR code generated through the Walmart Pay app at checkout and tap “Use Walmart Rewards,” while online shoppers can add the benefits at checkout when they pay.

    Walmart+ members can track their rewards accumulation through the Rewards Center on the retailer’s site and app. Saved item rewards have expiration dates, meaning customers must buy the item before the reward expires. 

    It’s unclear if the rewards will become available to non-members in the future, but Cracchiolo indicated that the retailer has more ideas in store for offering rewards to its customers: “We’re focusing first on providing rewards on items purchased by our members, and over time, we’ll continue to expand the program to deliver new ways to earn rewards.”

    On the retailer’s FAQ, which was last updated Aug. 19, Walmart said the rewards offering “is available to eligible (or some) members. This will be available to more Walmart+ members over time.”

    Walmart has been cagey about how many members have signed up for Walmart+. Executives on Walmart’s second-quarter earnings call earlier this month noted that the number of Walmart+ memberships “continues to grow.”

    “Walmart+ is an important component of our plan,” President and CEO Doug McMillon told investors on the call. 

    Earlier this month, Walmart announced it would add a free Paramount+ Essential subscription as a Walmart+ benefit. 

    Walmart’s venture into digital rewards follows the industry trend of pivoting away from paper coupons. An Inmar Intelligence survey released last year found that in 2020 shoppers used electronic coupons more often than ones in free-standing paper inserts — the first time that had ever happened.


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