• Retail Dive

Walmart expands Ibotta partnership with new cash-back rewards

Dive Brief:

  • Walmart is entering a multi-year partnership with cash-back rewards platform Ibotta, per a company announcement. The new program expands the companies' relationship that began in 2018.

  • Walmart shoppers can now earn hundreds of cash rebates on popular products via the retailer's website and app. After the rebates are redeemed, customers will receive cash directly to their Walmart accounts, applicable toward future purchases, including a Walmart+ membership, grocery delivery and more.

  • As part of the deal, Walmart will also join the Ibotta Performance Network (IPN), a digital program enabling cash rebates on some third-party sites, including social media, recipe hubs and other platforms. The expanded agreement sees Walmart leaning into loyalty to drive e-commerce sales and its digital data capabilities.

Dive Insight:

Walmart is using cash rebates to attract shoppers to its e-commerce offerings, including the Walmart+ membership that launched last September, grocery delivery and more. Once the rebates are redeemed, the cash-back hits shoppers' Walmart accounts, helping to retain those who have already signed up for the retailer's loyalty program and encouraging registration for those who haven't.

By redirecting the value of the rebates to its account database, Walmart appears to be building its capabilities in digital data collection. To sign up for an account, shoppers must enter personal information, including name and email address, which lets Walmart track shopping activity and leverage the data to inform targeted advertising.

Despite Google's recent delay of its plans to deprecate cookies, third-party data is still on its way out, and marketers must continue to develop alternatives. Retailers such as Walmart are investing in their abilities to collect digital data about their customers, a move that could serve as a workaround to needing cookies altogether. By deepening its knowledge around its digital customers, Walmart can also potentially better help advertisers on its site reach the most effective audiences.

In an effort to reach a wide range of digital users, Walmart is joining the IPN, Ibotta's digital cash rebate network. Cash-back rewards for products in Walmart's inventory can now find shoppers on a variety of third-party sites, including social media and recipe hubs, which shoppers can select and add to their digital Walmart cart for online or in-store shopping. The wide web of Ibotta's distribution partner properties will help Walmart reach consumers whether they're browsing on mobile devices or their desktop computers. For CPG brands working with Walmart, this means a wider network of users they can potentially reach.

The retailer has been busy strengthening its standing in both e-commerce and advertising. To compete with rival Amazon, Walmart is exploring new ways to consolidate its shopping into digital pathways, such as a recent cooking competition to push its grocery offerings. As for advertising, Walmart previously teamed with The Trade Desk to overhaul its ad business, which the retailer has been steadily building through additions to its approved partners program. Morgan Stanley estimated Walmart's annual ad revenue at about $500 million, with the potential to rise to $4 billion by 2025.

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