Friday, April 27, 2012

Walmart.com targets cash-only shoppers


When you go shopping online, most retailers are ready to welcome your business provided that you have one thing: a credit card.
Thanks to the wide availability of credit cards in the Western world, online retail has become a multi-billion dollar business. But how much business are online retailers missing out on from would-be customers who don't have credit cards?
The answer is largely unknown, but for some retailers, it may be significant. Walmart, for instance, says that just 15% of its in-store customers pay with a credit card.
While that doesn't mean that the 85% of transactions that don't involve a credit card in store are conducted by customers without credit cards, or that Walmart's online customer base is the same as its offline customer base, the retail giant isn't taking any chances.
Today, it is launching a Pay with Cash feature that seeks to ensure customers who don't have credit cards can still participate in online commerce. How it works is simple: cash customers shop at Walmart.com as anyone else would and at checkout, they select the Pay with Cash option. At that point, they're given an order number which they can take to a local Walmart within 48 hours to make a cash payment. Once that payment has been made, the order will be processed and shipped.
Citing the fact that just 15% of offline transactions are credit-based, Walmart.com CEO Joel Anderson stated "We definitely think [this] could be a big opportunity." As AllThingsDigital's Tricia Duryee notes, other companies think so too and are trying to cash in on cash-only. One player, PayNearMe, allows retailers to offer their own pay with cash option; customers make their payments at local 7-11 stores.
While not every retailer may have a pressing need to woo cash-only customers, for Walmart, bringing cash-only customers online could prove significant. While Walmart stores carry a lot, the selection on Walmart.com is far greater, and the retailer has been increasingly building smaller stores. If Walmart can eventually introduce its cash customers to Walmart.com, it could be a real shot in the arm for the company's ecommerce venture.


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