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Walmart.com Launches Cash Payment Method

New Pay With Cash option is among a series of service and technology enhancements developed by R&D unit @WalmartLabs.

CHICAGO — Walmart.com is tapping into new customer segments — the unbanked and the untrusting — via Pay With Cash, a new online payment option.

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The payment method, which allows shoppers to order items online without a credit card, was launched 60 days ago, Joel Anderson, president and chief executive of walmart.com U.S., said Wednesday during his presentation at the Internet Retailer conference (IRCE) here. Nearly 30 percent of shoppers using the feature have never shopped walmart.com before, he added, and “Pay With Cash” orders now represent 2 percent of all walmart.com orders.

Anderson said the new payment option is not used strictly by customers who lack a credit card or checking account. The option appeals to identity theft-wary consumers reluctant to enter their credit card numbers online. He said 40 percent of shoppers using the Pay With Cash option ultimately use a credit card or other noncash tender to pay for their online purchases in-store. Shoppers have 48 hours after placing an online order make payment in-store with cash or other payment methods.

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The new option is among a series of service and technology enhancements supporting Wal-Mart’s mission to provide shoppers with “anytime anywhere” access, Anderson said. Many of the innovations came out of @WalmartLabs, the R&D unit created last year to exploit opportunities in e-commerce, mobile commerce and social media.

Anderson, speaking before some 9,000 IRCE attendees, touched on other innovations emerging at the world’s largest retailer, including:

• “Goodies,” a subscription sampling program, much like Birchbox in cosmetics, that allows shoppers to try new foods and review them. Industry speculation suggests expansion to other product categories, but Anderson did not disclose future plans because it’s still in the beta testing stage.

• “Get On The Shelf,” which uses crowdsourcing to inform Wal-Mart buyers about items to carry in-store and online. Launched earlier this year, the program invites consumers to vote for favorite products. Anderson said the information gleaned from social channels also guides product assortment and allocation, because it reveals trends in demographic and geographic preferences.

“We have to use [external] signals,” he said. “We can’t just rely on intuitive skills of a buyer,” he said.

• Improved search engine on walmart.com, designed by its @WalmartLabs, has generated “double-digit increases in conversion rates” since its launch, Anderson said.

• “ShopyCat,” a social gift finder launched last year, gives Wal-Mart a window into likes, dislikes and product preferences by analyzing social postings among 20 million Facebook members.

• “Geofencing” uses global positioning system (GPS) technology to heighten the in-store experience. GPS prompts consumers with Wal-Mart’s mobile application installed on their iPhones to “enter store mode.” The mobile application allows shoppers to check item prices, place in-store orders (if an item, size, color is out of stock, for example) and aisle-by-aisle product locators make finding items easier. The feature may become available on other mobile devices in the future, but Anderson did not comment on that.

• “Endless Aisle” is in beta test stage in fewer than 100 stores, Anderson said. Shoppers use smartphones to scan QR codes to view a much broader assortment of product than is available in-store and make purchases on the spot.

“I cannot overstate how mobile is changing the impact of and how we interact with our customers,” Anderson said. New technologies and services in mobile, social media, online and in-store will continue to collide at Wal-Mart, he said, to deliver an integrated shopping experience that leverages the best of the digital and physical shopping worlds.

The IRCE conference, organized by Chicago-based Vertical Web Media, continues through Friday.