E-receipts are Walmart's newest source of shopper data

Walmart (NYSE: WMT) is rolling out a program to send shoppers e-receipts via its mobile app, and while they're surely thrilled to save a few trees the real impetus is the wealth of customer data it can provide.

The retailer hopes to use the feature to collect information on what shoppers are buying, that way it can provide suggested items for their shopping list and offers personalized to their shopping history.

"We view this as a platform," Gibu Thomas, Walmart's senior VP of mobile and digital media said at the Source14 conference in San Francisco. "It will produce a fire hose of transactional data."

When a customer checks out at one of Walmart's stores, they will be prompted to enter their mobile phone number on the debit card reader. If they choose the e-receipt option a receipt will be sent to their phone. If they have an account with Walmart, those purchases will be synced with the mobile app. They can also scan a QR code on print receipts to add them to the app.

The shopper opt-ins are a couple of sizable ifs for the program, but the retailer is hoping to provide more incentive for customers to participate than the typical e-receipt program. For one, storing all the receipts in the app will streamline the process for users, but they will also be able to easily add items to their shopping list while looking through past purchases.

Shoppers will also be able to make a return using their digital receipt, rather than having to hang on to a print copy. Wendy Bergh, VP of mobile and digital strategy at Walmart Global eCommerce, even hopes the retailer will be able to use the data acquired to make the shopping list portion of its app a more predictive experience.

"Imagine that you are shopping and the app reminds you to buy your milk or reminds you to buy your diapers when you are running out," she told Mobile Commerce Daily. "…The best shopping list is one you don't even have to create and that is what we want to deliver for them so that's where we are headed."

Walmart continues to build on its digital experience, whether in-store or purely online. Thomas compared the e-receipt program to the Savings Catcher the retailer debuted in March, in that it further develops the shopping experience while providing Walmart with prized information.

The chain continues to demonstrate its commitment to new technology. The Global eCommerce unit announced it will add 550 new hires and lease more than 100,000 square feet at a new property in Sunnyvale, California. Additionally, Walmart Labs recently acquired Adchemy for its search technology and the glut of purchase data provided by e-receipts could prove extremely valuable in its own right.

For more:
-See this Mobile Commerce Daily article
-See this Internet Retailer article

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Walmart Labs Adchemy acquisition adds improved product search capabilities
Data collection a top challenge for retail marketers
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