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When you head to Walmart, it is usually in search of the lowest price possible. Super-savvy bargain hunters know how to seek out the best deals, but what the average consumer might not realize is that your bill may not be as low as it should be. Shopping experts are issuing an important alert about what you should be on the lookout for when shopping at Walmart, particularly when it comes to pricing. Read on to find out what you'll want to double check the next time you're checking out.
READ THIS NEXT: Ex-Walmart Employee Sends New Warning to Shoppers.
There are different ways to shop for Walmart products.
Depending on your preferences, you can pick and choose how you shop at Walmart. Some of us prefer to select our own produce, while others want it to be delivered conveniently to their doorstep. Back in 2017, the retailer raised online prices in an effort to drive shoppers back to in-store shopping, The Wall Street Journal reported. But now, the opposite strategy appears to be at play. According to Carter Seuthe, CEO of Credit Summit, lower online pricing is directly tied to "location-based deals."
"Generally, you'll see more deals on the app [or online] than in the store, which is why it is much more common for app prices to be slightly better," Seuthe said. "Stores like Walmart benefit greatly from online shopping, so having better online deals is a way for them to encourage customers to shop online, while still financially benefiting from the customers in-store."
If you were unaware that prices can vary, you may want to take an extra step whenever you shop next.
The retailer's general policy is to match Walmart.com prices.
While shopping, customers can use the Walmart app to check prices and availability at that specific Walmart location, which is where concerns sometimes arise. If the price in your app is not matching up with what you're seeing at the register, you can request that a Walmart associate do a price match.
"If the Walmart price is lower online than in store, our policy is to match and give the customer the best price," Carrie McKnight, a Walmart spokesperson, said in an email.
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There are certain exceptions to the policy.
While Walmart's policy is to price match, certain items are not eligible, Steven Frankel, shopping expert for Dealperx.com, warned.
"One major factor is that not all products sold on Walmart.com or in the app are actually sold by Walmart, but are rather being sold by third-party marketplace sellers, similar to how Amazon works," Frankel said.
According to Walmart's website outlining the price match policy, in addition to third-party products, the retailer will not match Walmart.com prices on certain discounted products, including Black Friday or Cyber Monday deals, clearance, or rollback items. Walmart does not match prices from other Walmart or Neighborhood Market stores, which Frankel says is because individual store's markdowns are run "at different paces."
Here's how to request a price match.
Unfortunately, these pricing discrepancies are not uncommon, and according to McKnight, "Online pricing can differ, as it can be dynamic due to competitive price changes online." Walmart.com products are also distributed by fulfillment centers, which can change pricing to get rid of extra inventory, according to Rousseau Vestal, former Walmart associate and founder of Find The Aisle. On the flip side, individual Walmart stores can lower prices depending on how many items they have on the shelf, she said.
In order to get a price match, Walmart's policy requires customers to inform the associate of the item's price, which must be in stock on Walmart.com at that time. The match may require supervisor approval, who then must verify both the price and availability of the identical item on Walmart.com. Price matching is also not available in Alaska, Hawaii, or Puerto Rico, and the retailer will not price match items purchased from Walmart.com that later decrease in price.
Looking to avoid the hassle of checking each line item? Vestal recommends ordering ahead. "Customers can get those store prices online if they choose Pickup Today to pick up the item in store," she said.