Walmart Plus targets Amazon Prime with $ 98 cheaper membership fee

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A truck transports Walmart goods on the freeway near Fredericksburg, Texas. Getty Images

Walmart has seen its e-commerce business grow tremendously during the coronavirus pandemic, because millions of people avoided venturing into stores. The big-box retailer is now doubling its ambitious e-commerce goals to help it continue to grow online and help shoppers get digital orders faster.

On Monday, Walmart announced that it was expanding its ecommerce membership program to include more items and more benefits, such as fast-as-same-day shipping for orders of $ 35 or more and a feature cashless payment in the Walmart app. This is the latest offering from the company to accept Amazon Prime, having introduced other membership programs over the years that have failed to attract customers. The new program, previously called Unlimited delivery and focused on groceries, will be renamed Walmart Plus and will add many items that you will find in a Walmart store, including toys, electronics and household items like cleaners and toothpaste.

All Delivery Unlimited customers will upgrade to the new program, which will be priced the same at $ 98 per year or $ 12.95 per month. Walmart Plus, scheduled to launch earlier this year, will be available in the US on September 15.

“We designed this program as the ultimate life hack,” Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s director of customer service, said during a press call Monday.

This strengthened membership program is expected to help Walmart continue its rapid growth in e-commerce, where it has already become the second-largest online seller in the United States, but remains well behind Amazon. Last month, Walmart, the world’s largest retailer, said its online sales nearly doubled in its most recent quarter, as more customers used curbside pickup and other services. online.

While these are obvious positives for the company, as it has spent billions of dollars in online retailing, Walmart Plus is set to face tough comparisons with Amazon Prime, a 15-year program that has more than 150 million users and a much longer list of benefits. These benefits include the Prime Video library, Amazon fresh grocery deliveries and no minimum delivery for many low price items. Prime is a more expensive option, at $ 119 per year.


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“We don’t launch Walmart Plus with the intention of competing with anything else,” Whiteside said of Prime. “We are launching it to meet the needs of our customers. ”

Walmart has the upper hand in the grocery store. It is the largest grocer in the United States, while Amazon is a much smaller food supplier. Walmart has built on that strength with a curbside pickup program and online grocery deliveries. Amazon worked to undermine Walmart’s lead by buying Whole Foods in 2017, opening up a handful of new commodities and grocery storesand expand its Amazon Fresh delivery service.

This isn’t the first push Walmart has made into a membership program, after running the Shipping Pass and Jetblack programs. Unlimited delivery was also widely extended last fall. Whiteside said Walmart has learned a lot from these previous programs and used the best parts for Walmart Plus.

Benefits of the new program will include faster shipping, with member deliveries of 160,000 items arriving as fast as same day at no additional cost. Orders must be at least $ 35, the same minimum as with unlimited shipping. Non-members currently enjoy free two-day shipping for millions of items on orders of $ 35 or more. Free next day delivery for non-members is also available, but only to specific zip codes.

In-store shoppers will have access to a “Scan & Go” feature that allows them to scan items with their phones and pay for them using Walmart Pay, which allows them to skip the line. Walmart was testing a similar cashless technology in one Sam’s club store since 2018. These types of contactless payments are particularly useful during the pandemic to help customers avoid touching payment terminals and other shared surfaces.

In addition, Walmart offers a fuel rebate of up to 5 cents per gallon at approximately 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express locations. Sam’s Club stations will soon be added to this list.

“I have a feeling that they are going to do a little more to attract people to this area because as it is, it’s not a bad program, but it’s not a great program. “Said Neil Saunders, analyst at research firm GlobalData on Tuesday. “When you look at Amazon Prime, there are only light years left. ”

He added that Walmart will face an uphill battle with “subscription fatigue” as buyers have already budgeted for Prime, Costco, Spotify, Netflix and many other services.

At this point, Whiteside said Walmart Plus would get more benefits, although it avoided providing details. She added that the program was designed specifically for the US market and declined to say if there were any plans to expand it internationally.

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