Walmart Hoping To Get Cash-Only Customers To Shop Online

Walmart is the largest retailer in the country, which means that there are inevitably a number of the store’s customers who don’t use credit or debit cards. In the checkout aisle, that’s not a problem because cash is always an option, but the lack of plastic keeps these shoppers from buying anything online. Walmart thinks it may have found a compromise that could resolve that issue.

Called “Pay With Cash,” the program would allow the approximately 20% of Walmart customers who lack bank accounts or credit cards to reserve products for pick-up online and then pick them up at a nearby Walmart, where they would, as the name suggests, pay with cash.

The program, which starts next month, is just one of several things Walmart is trying to boost its online business as Amazon and other e-tailers nip at the company’s heels.

Bloomberg reports that the company has been internally using the slogan “Anywhere, Anytime” to describe its goal for’s future.

The chain has had its “site-to-store” pick-up option available for some time, and it wants to make a marketing push on same-day, in-store pick-up as a way to attract shoppers who would otherwise choose Amazon because it doesn’t charge sales tax in most states (though you are still obligated to pay it if your state charges sales tax).

Walmart is also working on something called “Endless Aisle,” that would allow customers to place orders on their smartphones for out-of-stock items in stores.

According to Bloomberg, Walmart was still the top retail destination for holiday shopping, with 53% of U.S. shoppers visiting the stores this past season. However, that number is down 6% from 2009, while the number of people doing holiday shopping at Amazon has jumped from 38% to 46% during the same period.

Wal-Mart Gears Up Online as Customers Defect to Amazon [Bloomberg]


Edit Your Comment

  1. MMD says:

    Amazon may be “nipping at Walmart’s heels”…so they go after customers who can’t be Amazon customers because they don’t use credit cards.

    How does this help Walmart compete with Amazon, then? Am I missing something?

    • MMD says:

      And, P.S., I shop at Amazon because I expressly don’t want to go pick it up in a store…

      • tomok97 says:

        I think the goal is to maximize a revenue source that (presumably) Amazon cannot tap into.

        That being said, it does just seem like they’re shifting around purchases that they probably would’ve gotten anyway. But when it comes to separating people from their money, I don’t know that I’d bet against Walmart. lol

  2. Cat says:

    Walmart is also working on something called “Endless Aisle,” that would allow customers to place orders on their smartphones for out-of-stock items in stores.

    Because every time I’m there lately, several of the things I came for are not there.
    So, I’ll have to place my order now with my smartphone and pick it up later, in what, a week – when it’s delivered?

    Wait, I don’t have a smartphone…

    • Peffse says:

      I’m guessing this feature is being planned not because they want customer satisfaction, but rather to cut loose even more floor employees maintaining the shelves.

    • vastrightwing says:

      .. and Walmart has an option for you too. Family Mobile! It’s great! $45/mo for the first phone and $25 each phone after that. Everything is unlimited (data is included for a few months anyway). It’s a great deal.

    • MMD says:

      Yes! It’s convenient! Especially because there are no other stores anywhere that might have the same item, right!

      Seriously, who came up with this plan?

    • ElleAnn says:

      I had the exact same issue. I usually avoid Walmart, but I shopped there around a month ago. My list included a specific brand of cat food (not a weird brand… one I can usually buy at the grocery store), pita bread, and a lamp shade (needed to screw onto the top of a harp-fitter instead of sitting below the bulb). Zero success. If Walmart isn’t a one stop-shopping experience for my weird shopping lists, I don’t see any reason to ever go back.

  3. maxamus2 says:

    Shopping in Walmart is bad enough, but if I had to order stuff online, go to their customer service, wait in that freaking endless line, then hope they get all the items I ordered and then pay for them. I’ll pass.

    • Cat says:

      You don’t go to the customer service line in any Walmart I’ve ever been to to pick up “site to store” merchandise. There’s an area just for that.

      • kornkid42 says:

        Yeah, and the wait there is even longer than the customer service line.

      • bethanyboo says:

        Have you ever done Site to Store? It’s a nightmare. I’ve never waited less than a half hour at my local walmart.

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Maybe I’m lucky, I never have that problem at my Walmart. In and out in a few minutes.

      • caradrake says:

        At our local Walmart, the Site-to-Store is in the same area as customer service. The photo counter is also there. All of the photo kiosks are crowded into one corner. Photo/site-to-store share a counter, but they also share employees with customer service.

        So they make you stand in a separate line, but they don’t go and help you until everyone in the normal customer service line is helped.

        When I picked up a bike before Christmas, the sole employee would take one customer’s order, walk all the way to the back of the store, grab the item, and give it to the customer. Then do the same process with the next person.

        Would have been so much more convenient had they located site-to-store in the back, or even had multiple employees working – have one stand at front, another pull from the back when called. Or just take everyone’s receipts, go grab all of the items, and come back. Rather than walking back and forth for every transaction.

  4. mrvw says:

    What wal-mart really needs to fix, in my opinion, is stocking a product for 3 months and then stopping out of the blue.
    They always seem to do this to me. I find a food I like that they carry, I buy it every freaking week for a couple months, then it’s gone. I asked the store manager about it and she really didn’t have a reason other than ‘we just stopped carrying it’

    • Cat says:

      stocking a product for 3 months and then stopping out of the blue.

      Like, EGGS.

      • AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:


      • Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

        You know, I think it makes sense to stop carrying eggs that are 3 months old. Unless it’s century eggs.

    • Yacko says:

      This is the future, shopping du jour. You are lucky it’s there. No brand loyalty. I’ve noted the trend myself. Everything else is deliver to the store and you pick up. Web sites of Sear-KMart list every product known to man, like Walmart, or Lowes-Home Depot, 90% not carried at a local store, but you can order and ship-to-store. The general store is moving online. I expect Amazon to eventually go small brick and mortar with a you pick up option being the major motivation. Amazon, you say? Sure why not. Depends how many warehouse it has nationwide. This may also be a moment of vertical integration, trucking customer orders may no longer be Fedex or UPS territory.

    • DFManno says:

      Two possibilities:

      1) Walmart got a limited-time special deal from the vendor, but decided not to carry the item at its regular price.

      2) Walmart is known for squeezing its vendors on price. Sometimes the vendor balks and stops doing business with Walmart..

    • Jevia says:

      Walmart isn’t the only store that does that. I’ve seen it happen at my local grocery store and Costco too. I chalk it up to whether the store got a good deal from a vendor (i.e. they can make a decent profit off of it).

  5. AlteredBeast (blaming the OP one article at a time.) says:

    Is there a big segement of the population that has internet access, but no bank account?

    If it is their account for home internet service, I’d think a bank account is needed.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Why would you think that? It’s not necessary to have a bank account in order to have cable TV, a cell phone, a landline, Internet, or any other utility.

    • MNGirl says:

      I have internet, and no bank account. I hate banks, I hate there fees, and I prefer to do everything in cash. I have DirecTv, internet, a cell phone, electric, car insurance, and so on and so forth, all with no bank account.

    • RandomHookup says:

      Smartphones are the internet access of the poor. Along with libraries and community centers…

  6. Bagels says:

    Am I missing something here? isn’t most of the favorable aspect of shopping online that you don’t have to go inside a store? So if you’re just ‘reserving’ an item online and then going to pick up in-store with cash, how is that really helping you at all? Maybe saves you a few minutes I guess of having to actually locate the items, but you still have to physically go inside the store.

    • MMD says:

      And if the line to get that reserved item is as long as others here are reporting, that’s not exactly a convenience, either.

    • Jawaka says:

      I didn’t get it as well. If I have to go to the store to pick it up I’d just go to the store and not even bother going to their website.

  7. RedOryx says:

    Wait. Walmart thinks that their customer population without a bank account or credit card somehow has easy access to the internet?

    • MNGirl says:

      I have internet at home, and no bank account or credit card.

    • Mrs. w/1 child says:

      A lot of people who pay cash use “smart” phones on pay as you go plans to access the internet.

      I don’t get why wal-mart would do this or how this will help them compete with amazon, but they have a huge marketing department and must have an angle somewhere. Amazon usually still beats their prices and selection.

      When I go to the burbs the only reason I go to walmart is to browse for non essentials (spend “fun” money). They do not have consistent product offerings of the things you need and often the price isn’t the best (examples are saline solution, edible tomatoes, etc.) However, sometimes you stumble on something inexpensive/useful as kind of a bonus (in the same way you do when thrifting or going to garage sales).

  8. Chipzilla says:

    People without bank accounts and/or credit cards have computers and internet access??

    • Chipzilla says:

      Hmm. From reading the other comments I can see that several people have spotted the flaw in Walmart’s plan…

      • ChuckECheese says:

        It’s not a flaw if it appeals to the demographic. Also, what I’m taking away from this thread is how ignorant posters are of the way that other people live. This lack of awareness, let alone sympathy, creates all sorts of social problems and general suckage.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Why do you need to have a bank account or credit card in order to have Internet service? Do you put your Internet bill on your CC every month?

      They send you a paper bill, you either get a money order and mail it in or pay for it with cash in person at the office, the supermarket, or Walmart. If you have a bank account but no credit or debit card (preventing you from shopping online) you write a check. Easy peasy.

      • MMD says:

        Don’t most providers do a credit check when you sign up? Lots of people don’t have bank accounts or credit cards because they’ve had financial trouble in the past…couldn’t that prevent Walmart’s target customers from even getting home internet?

        • Such an Interesting Monster says:

          Most of the time if you have lousy credit they’ll just require a cash deposit.

  9. menty666 says:

    If I’m going to walmart to buy something anyway, why would I take the extra step to buy it online? Unless there’s that whole dual pricing structure like best buy and uses.

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      Yes, very often the prices are better online than they are in-store, and the store usually won’t match the online price.

  10. olderbudwizer says:

    Well, they will need to beef up the help they have in those ‘site-to-store’ pick up areas. I’ve not yet had a fun or efficient experience ordering online and going to pick it up. It’s bad enough to have to deal with their own people who hardly know how to operate their systems, now we get extra cash-only customers extra line-waiting too? That ought to distance them from Big River alright!

  11. Naked-Gord-Program says:

    Man some people are being rather arrogant in this thread.

    1) I have a credit card but I don’t like to use it online. I do it but there’s identity, credit card theft that worries me. I’d happily take a “pay at store option” over from making a purchase @ Amazon if the price was the same (or they price matched)

    2) Wal-Mart carries plenty of items that aren’t stocked in store. If I could get a web only item shipped to store without using a CC all the better.

    3) Plenty of people are getting internet service without having a credit card.

    There’s a number of options out there from pre-paid to wifi hotspots in cafes. Just because you have bad credit or an illegal immigrant doesn’t mean they want to remain in the tech dark ages.

    Some countries have even deemed internet to be a basic human right.

    Thanks for improving things Wal-Mart – when you add this to your Canadian estore I’ll happily make use of it and buy more from you instead of Amazon.

    • Snoofin says:

      Sounds like you should buy a tinfoil hat (With cash in the store of course)

    • DrRonster says:

      If you fear the theft of your credit card info, then use a virtual credit card. Citibank has a very useful and easy app for that and Bank of America has the Shop Safe Virtual card. I’m sure there are others but I haven’t used those. This way you can still do a chargeback as well as getting the extended warranty, if you have the Visa Signature, Mastercard World and certain American Express credit cards, and the rewards provided by the card. Yesterday, I ordered an LCD TV from Walmart with the Costco American Express specifically for the extra year warranty and the 1% cashback with free shipping, Site to Store.

  12. ancientone567 says:

    You all will become Walmart shoppers. Everyone of you!

  13. HogwartsProfessor says:

    ??? This makes no sense.

  14. Scuba Steve says:

    That might seem like a good idea, but what about all those shoppers who order tons of items and never pick them up? Shipping is a non-zero expense, so even if they manage to sell it to someone, that’s isle space and shipping that’s being wasted.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Hmm, I think you might have just discovered a new form of civil disobedience.

      1) Establish account with walmart’s online store with bogus information.
      2) Order lots of stuff for store pickup, and tell them you’re planning on paying with cash.
      3) Walmart ships lots of stuff to the store that never gets paid for, thus costing them shipping funds
      4) PROFIT!

      I realize they’re probably just going to put the stuff on the shelf if it never gets picked up, but 1) that’s got to cause them inventory management issues and 2) if you order enough stuff it’ll totally screw with their just-in-time inventory scheme.

      Or, you know, you could just not shop there at all for anything ever.

  15. Mr. Pottersquash says:

    why dont they do USPS a solid and bring back COD?

  16. TheUncleBob says:

    Walmart’s been serving cash-only customers online for awhile now via the ability to use shopping cards to order online.

    This is an interesting idea though…

  17. mulch says:

    Just go to Walmart, buy a Walmart Gift Card, use it to shop online. As long as you don’t need to buy anything that costs over $1000 (the maximum gift card amount you can redeem at one time) that works fine. Just like Amazon Gift Cards.

  18. adent1066 says:

    If they lack credit card, debit cards, and bank accounts, how the heck are the paying for their online services ?

  19. BettyCrocker says:

    It seems the benefit might be, in addition to ordering things not available in the store normally, that you don’t have to go walking around the entire store looking for the things you want to buy.

    Maybe they should sell it along the lines of a personal shopper who does all the hard work for you. Although I’ll bet they’ve already considered that and decided that could eliminate all the impulse buying people often do as they walk around the store.