Walmart's online 'pay cash' option helps deliver a tailored customer experience

WHAT IT MEANS AND WHY IT'S IMPORTANT — The news that Walmart now is offering cash payment options for online orders on its site in the United States is important for several reasons. Not only is Walmart the first major retailer to offer the service, but it also further illustrates that stores increasingly are just one slice of a larger, more connected consumer experience.

(THE NEWS: Walmart becomes first-ever retailer to launch online 'pay with cash' option. For the full story, click here)

As the article explained, a shopper places an order on Walmart.com and, during checkout, selects the "cash" option and a shipping preference. The customer receives an order number on the order confirmation page and an email receipt with the order number, and the item is then reserved in the system. The customer has 48 hours to take the printed order form to any cash register of any Walmart store or Neighborhood Market. Once cash payment is completed in the store and received, shipping then occurs via "Site to Store" or to a preferred address.

Pretty convenient, especially since Walmart said that most of its in-store transactions are paid in cash or cash equivalent, including debit cards.

The move is in line with the findings of the recent Deloitte study titled “The Next Evolution: Store 3.0,” which stated: “Retailers need to re-examine and reconfigure their talent, physical space and store operations to meet or exceed customer expectations. A strategy that aligns these dimensions and is enabled by the right technology solutions can help retailers deliver a tailored experience for their customers.”

While the study stressed that the retail store is not going away, it said that the store of the future, dubbed 3.0, is “an evolution, not a destination that draws on a retailer’s unique strategy and vision to chart a path for how to remain relevant in a constantly changing retail environment.”

Meanwhile, as further proof of the buzz around m.commerce is Kantar Media’s report of digital couponing events during first quarter 2012.

Kantar Media solution Marx found that key websites increased digital coupon events by 17.1%, compared with the year-ago period. The number of manufacturers distributing digital coupons on only retailer websites grew by 43.5% in the first quarter, compared with the same period in 2011, Kantar Media noted.