Five ways Walmart is taking on Amazon - part #4

Amazon and Walmart are locked in an epic battle for the future of retail. As the former moves into the physical world with bookstores and its purchase of Whole Foods, the latter builds a sprawling omnichannel ecosystem. Essential Retail brings you five ways in which the old timer is taking the fight to the online behemoth.

4.) Mobile payments

Walmart Pay is part of an extensive, some might say bewilderingly long, list of payments products, which also includes Moneycard (prepaid), gift cards, e-gift cards, Walmart2Walmart remittances, Amex Bluebird card accounts, online bill pay, cheque cashing and prepaid reloading.

“The challenge with such a complex product set is helping store associates to understand and sell them, let alone the end customer,” says Simon Burrows, MD at Payments Fintech.

When Walmart Pay first appeared on the scene in 2015, it looked to be swimming against the mobile payments tide. Unlike Apple Pay, Android Pay et al, it was built around QR codes and accepted at only one place. A larger roll-out followed in 2016. In the first six months, four of five customers recommended the service to others. Of these users, 90% were repeats. Karla Allen, senior director of mobile wallets at Walmart, told attendees at Money 20/20 Las Vegas: "We're adding value that ends in payments but it's not necessarily about payments. Those kind of services make a customer want to use mobile."

For Burrows, the appeal lies in the addition of touch and go functionality with similarities to contactless, giving a more streamlined and rapid checkout (provided the technology works, of course). The customer opens their app, enters their PIN/biometric check and scans a QR code displayed on the till. The payment is then processed via their chosen credit/debit/prepaid card.

“Walmart Pay incorporates a couple of valuable added benefits; the ability to store gift cards on your phone, avoiding those annoying moments when you want to buy something but have left your gift card in a drawer at home, and the ability to receive till receipts digitally on your phone rather than wait for a paper receipt to be printed,” he says. “It can also store shopping lists and allow repeat medical prescriptions to be ordered. Walmart Online purchases can also be paid for by Walmart Pay, avoiding the need to enter credit/debit card details into the Walmart site at the time of purchase.”