As prices rise with inflation and supply chain shortages, customers are looking for a bargain, now more than ever.
Even big-box stores like Walmart, with 5,000 stores and more than $500 billion in revenue in the U.S. alone, are finding it difficult to compete with such online retailers as Amazon.
Because of this, retailers are finding new ways to incentivize customers to buy items in their stores.
One of these methods is a “rollback,” which is a temporary price reduction that has been established as a deal with the supplier.
Let’s take a look at answers to commonly asked questions about rollbacks, and how to make these deals work best for you.
What Does Rollback Mean?
A rollback is a promotional period that lowers the prices for specific items and is negotiated between the store and the supplier.
Rollbacks can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, depending on the store, supplier, and item.
Walmart’s rollbacks tend to last between three and 10 weeks and average around 90 days.
Sometimes, rollback items are sold at a price lower than their market value and cause the company to lose revenue for those items.
However, rollbacks are enacted under the pretense that the customers will buy other things from the store that are being sold above market value, which will thus make up for this loss in profit.
What Is The Difference Between Rollbacks And Sales?
Though sales and rollbacks are similar in the sense that they typically involve temporary price reductions on certain items, they have more differences than similarities.
Whereas traditional sales are marketed with a theme, like “Labor Day,” “Black Friday,” or “Semi-Annual Sale,” a rollback is instituted without a particular overarching idea in mind.
In the case of Walmart, rollbacks are an additional way to keep customers coming in at any time of the year to accrue savings in addition to the other sales already taking place at the store.
Rollbacks are also offered at a specific price point instead of a promotional offer or percentage.
For example, whereas a sale might be “50% off women’s clothing” or “Buy 1, Get 1 Free DVDs,” rollbacks offer specific prices like “Was $15.99, Now $10.49.”
You might notice that these prices don’t have an even dollar amount like $18, but instead, they might be $17.99.
This is because customers tend to round down, and therefore, they see the item as cheaper than it really is, and also do not incorporate tax when looking at the price.
Since rollback offers are devised in partnership with the supplier, and not totally up to the store, rollback prices vary for each item.
What Is The Difference Between Rollbacks And Clearance?
Clearances are sales with the goal of getting certain items out of the store for the foreseeable future.
This often pertains to seasonal items that the store will not find profitable in the upcoming months.
For example, Christmas-themed candy, mugs, and décor are on clearance after the holiday because the stores know that most customers will not be in the market for these Christmas items for many months.
The store marks down clearance items to a very low price, often marking them as “final sale,” encouraging people to buy the items off the shelves even though they can’t return them.
Sometimes this means the store might not reap profit from the clearance items, but at least it saves the inventory from becoming a complete loss of revenue.
Rollbacks, on the other hand, might be applied to items that the company intends to sell even after the promotional period is over.
It is a way to highlight certain items, encouraging people to buy things that do not usually go on sale.
Since rollback items are part of the store’s permanent stock, customers will be able to return items on rollback whereas clearance items are likely to be a final sale, meaning they cannot be returned.
Contrary to clearance items whose prices will continue decreasing until sold, rollback items’ prices will return to their normal price after the promotional period is over.
How Long Does A Rollback Last?
Rollbacks can last anywhere from a few days to a few months, whatever length of time the supplier and store agree upon.
For Walmart, this averages at about 90 days.
Walmart does not tell its customers how long an item will remain on rollback to encourage customers to buy more of the item, faster.
Most of the store associates don’t even know this information.
If an item you’re interested in is offered on rollback, be sure to snatch it up quickly.
Where Are Rollbacks Available?
Rollbacks aren’t just available at physical Walmart locations.
Customers can still find rollback items online.
Walmart rollbacks are available on its website.
This makes it easier to see what items are being offered at a rollback rate, even if you would rather purchase the item in person.
All prices include the previous and current prices.
How Often Does A Rollback Take Place?
Walmart does not have a set schedule for when or how long rollback prices will be in effect.
This is decided by pricing executives and suppliers, which decision is then handed down to store managers and sales associates.
There are always some items on rollback, though.
Since it depends on the suppliers’ needs, there is no guarantee how often a rollback will take place.
Given the recent supply chain shortage, rollbacks may occur less often.
Does A Rollback Just Mean The Company Has Overstocked Products?
Rollbacks could be the result of an overstock.
These deep discounts can happen for all kinds of reasons, and overstock is one of them.
When there is too much inventory of one item, Walmart and the supplier may collaborate on an incentive to sell the item to customers.
Items are usually rolled back when necessary, such as when there is too much of the item or it is not selling fast enough at its current price.
How Can Customers Keep Track Of Rollbacks?
In the digital age, it’s easy to take a quick visit to Walmart’s website to see which items are currently rolled back.
In fact, Walmart even does it for you.
On the website, there is a filter for “Rollback” items.
It is a great way to see what items are reduced in price while being mindful that this bargain will usually not last longer than 90 days.
What Products Tend To Get Rollbacks?
New items cannot be debuted as a rollback.
The item must be sold at the store for a period to be eligible for promotional pricing.
At Walmart, a new item in inventory cannot start on the shelves as a rollback, otherwise, customers will not want to purchase the item at the higher “original” price after the rollback is over.
Offering a familiar item at a rollback price later gives customers time to become loyal to an item or brand, and then reap an extra reward when that item goes on rollback.
Most rollbacks are implemented for perishable food items.
This way, it encourages customers to buy food before it expires, so the store does not have to throw it away and lose profit.
What Are The Implications For Suppliers?
Rollback items differ from sale items in that rollbacks involve an agreement between the stores and the suppliers, rather than a decision by the store alone.
Suppliers should be ready to analyze their sales and revenue before, during, and after a rollback.
Sometimes, the promotions may cause rollback items to be sold at a loss, damaging the store and supplier’s revenue streams.
However, it may also encourage customers to try a new product and generate customer loyalty.
This may then encourage people to buy the item later, even when the promotional period is over.
Rollbacks help to indicate what customers are willing to pay for an item.
How Does The Store Make Up For A Loss Of Profit On A Rollback?
When an item is on rollback, that means that the store might be offering it at a loss, or at the very least, a breakeven point.
Why would stores and suppliers agree to this, knowing that it will damage sales?
Walmart also knows that most people do not adhere strictly to their shopping lists when walking through the store.
It is filled with aisles of temptation.
Rollbacks might lure a customer into the store, and they might buy that item at a lower price than they would have otherwise.
However, they also tend to buy things they would not have purchased had they not come to Walmart for that rollback item.
Walmart sells everything from guns to chocolate bars to shower gel to workout clothes.
Customers are bound to notice something else they want.
The sign of “Everyday Low Prices” is sure to get into the subconscious as well as customers note that they are picking up these items for more of a bargain than would be available at other stores.
Other Ways To Save
Rollbacks are a great way to score savings on the products you already know and love.
They also allow customers to try more high-end products that do not usually fall within their budget.
To maximize savings, keep tabs on rollbacks by subscribing to Walmart emails or checking the website.
In addition to keeping tabs on rollbacks, there are several other ways to save money on your Walmart trips.
1. Compare The In-Store And Walmart Website Prices
Sometimes they differ from one another.
The store will typically honor the online price if it is lower than the in-store price.
2. Price Match Products
Check other online vendors for the products you want.
If a competing vendor is selling the same make and model of an item at a lower price, Walmart matches its price.
It will even price match Amazon.
3. Exchange Gift Cards And Devices For Walmart Credit
If you have a gift card that you do not want, you can bring it to Walmart, and they’ll exchange it for you.
You will get a Walmart gift card for 70–98% of the value of your previous gift card.
You can also trade in smartphones and other devices for Walmart merchandise credit or cash!
4. Use Manufacturer’s Coupons
If you find an online or printable coupon from the manufacturer of an item you love, and the price comes out to lower than Walmart’s price, Walmart will happily accept the manufacturer’s coupon.
5. Keep Tabs On When Products Go On Clearance Or Rollback
If a product you recently purchased gets a promotional offer within seven days after purchase, Walmart will do a price adjustment for you.
6. Buy Goods With Damaged Packaging
If you notice an item in a dented package that is otherwise in perfect shape, you can request a discount at the register.
Rollbacks are one of the many ways Walmart honors its policy of “Everyday Low Prices.”
They represent an agreement between the store and the supplier to mark down the price for a certain amount of time, which usually lasts around 90 days.
Rollbacks are a great way for customers to get a bargain on an item they love or try new products that otherwise might not be within their budget.
Rollbacks also help suppliers analyze their sales performance.
They show how much a customer is willing to spend on the item, in addition to how supply and demand vary with price.
These types of discounts tend to be implemented on food products when the store is trying to get rid of items before the sell-by date.
Unfortunately, the supply chain shortage has resulted in fewer rollbacks at Walmart stores, since overstock is not as common.
However, as things settle, hopefully, there will be more rollbacks in the future.