Do Walmart Substitutions Cost More

Whenever I order something from Walmart, I do so knowing I’ll get the exact items I want. However these days, and considering the global supply chain issues, sometimes items may be out of stock and Walmart will have to perform substitutions to fulfill my order. But, do substitutions cost more at Walmart?

In some cases, Walmart substitutions can cost more than the original item being purchased. Previously, Walmart would always charge the lower priced item, but has since changed over to whatever the list items price is.

Generally though, Walmart associates aim to package items that are similarly priced or lower when making order substitutions. Lets get more into how Walmart handles substitutions, and what you can do to limit your liability when it comes time to pay.

Walmart’s Substitution Policy

Walmart is known for its convenient online shopping experience, and part of this experience includes handling substitutions. Recently, Walmart changed its substitution policy, meaning customers using pickup and delivery services will now pay the list price for any substituted items.

That sucks, but it makes sense as Walmart would lose money if the substituted item was substantially more expensive than the original purchase item. And, it makes sense because a lot of times if a customer is choosing the cheaper product or say a Great Value brand, then get substitute with something name brand, its a big loss for Walmart.

Handling Out of Stock Items

When an item you’ve ordered is unavailable, Walmart will try substituting it with a similar alternative product. This alternative product may be from the same brand or another brand, depending on availability and your preferences indicated during the ordering process.

During the ordering process, you can specify whether you want Walmart to make substitutions or not by checking the “Allow Substitutions” option. If an item is out of stock and you’ve allowed substitutions, Walmart will select a substitute that closely matches the original product.

If you’re not satisfied with the substitute product, you can let the associate at the store know about pickup orders, and they will remove it from your order. You’ll need to set up a return from your Purchase History on the Walmart app or website for delivery orders.

Understanding Pricing Policies

Previously, when you shopped online with Walmart, and an item you wanted was out of stock, the retailer would offer you a substitute product without charging extra, even if the substituted item was more expensive than the original.

The new policy means that you’ll pay the list price of the substituted item, which may lead to additional charges if the replacement is more expensive than your original selection.

This change in policy affects Walmart customers opting for pickup or delivery services, making it essential to be aware of the potential cost implications when purchasing online.

Requesting Refunds For Unwanted Substitutions

If you don’t want a substitution, you can inform the associate at the store during pickup, and they’ll remove it from your order. You’ll need to set up a return from your Purchase History on the Walmart app for a delivery order.

Enabling and disabling substitutions on your Walmart grocery order

You can allow or disallow substitutions for specific items when placing an order on the Walmart app or website. You can enable or disable substitutions by toggling the “allow substitutions” button next to each item in your cart.

Opting Out of Substitutions

Because subsitutions can vary widely, you may want to opt out of them alltogether, especially if your item is more of a large ticket purchase. For example, if you ordered 10 pounds of beef from a lower priced brand, you can most certainly expect the substituting brand to be well beyond that price point.

Thankfully, If you want to avoid accepting a substitution in your pickup or delivery order, Walmart provides options to opt out. At the pickup point, you can inform the associate that you don’t want the substituted item, and they’ll remove it from your order.

For delivery orders, the process is slightly different—your Purchase History on the Walmart app or website can be used to set up a return for the unwanted item after delivery.

Changes in Grocery Market Share

Walmart’s recent decision to charge customers for order substitutions could impact the grocery market share. Previously, Walmart did not charge extra if a substituted item was more expensive than the original. By altering their policy, they may see a shift in consumer behavior.

For instance, customers might become more conscious of their grocery selections and ordering habits to avoid paying extra for substitutions. Furthermore, this could lead some customers to explore alternative grocery pickup options, such as shopping at Kroger or using services like Instacart. These changes could result in a slight redistribution of grocery market shares among competitors.

If the substitution charges are minimal and customers continue to find value in the convenience and expediency of Walmart’s online shopping experience, the market share impact might be insignificant.

Competitors’ Standpoint

As Walmart’s substitution policy evolves, rival companies may view this as an opportunity to capitalize on potential customer dissatisfaction. Competitors like Kroger and Instacart could emphasize the affordability and flexibility of their own substitution policies to attract consumers who find Walmart’s policy change less appealing.

Other grocery retailers could also explore ways to differentiate themselves based on their ordering experience, pricing, and customer service. This might include offering clearer communication regarding out-of-stock items, upfront pricing, or integrating EBT payment options for online purchases.

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