Can Walmart Plus Subscription Take On Amazon Prime?

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The Prime membership offered by the undefeated global e-commerce giant Amazon.com, Inc. (NASDAQ: AMZN) is something that can seldom be replicated or challenged. But, Walmart which is often dubbed as the U.S. retail giant has decided to do exactly that.

Walmart Inc (NYSE: WMT), in a bid to rival Amazon Prime, has recently unveiled their plans to launch a membership program of their own. Amazon Prime has more than 150 million global members and more than 118 million Prime members in the United States. The figures are lucrative enough to attract the eyeballs of Walmart.

The retail giant will be rolling out ‘Walmart+’ a $98 per year or $12.95 per month membership on 15th September. It will be giving its members access to perks such as unlimited free delivery from stores, fuel discounts at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express fuel stations and the ability to check out via a mobile phone in stores.

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The members will also be entitled to get unlimited free home delivery for on more than 160,000 products which currently includes fresh food, toilet paper or electronics, sold in almost every Walmart store. As of now, delivery for non-members is priced at $9 per order.

Here it needs to be noted that this particular membership doesn’t include free delivery from Walmart’s e-commerce arm Walmart.com wherein the giant sells millions of items as well. Walmart.com already offers free shipping on orders above $35.

The Chief Customer Officer of Walmart Janey Whiteside hopes that this new initiative will be able to drive more appeal among busy shoppers and also added that they will continually keep adding more perks in the coming months.

She mentioned that Walmart shoppers, in the pilot test seemed to have spent more with the membership than without thus they know it’s already a success.

Walmart+: Tried and Tested

Amazon Prime is one of the best memberships a shopper can get for his or her money’s worth. Thus, seeing how Walmart is 15 years late into this game, it is quite hard for them to butt heads with Bezos’s e-commerce giant.

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For $119 a year, the Amazon Prime gives its members free, fast delivery of millions of items as well as access to tons of movies, tv-series, streaming music and other perks.

In 2019, Amazon, by dropping an extra monthly fee, also added grocery delivery under AmazonFresh for Prime members. 

Even though the carefully structured Walmart+ is one of the first membership programs introduced by the company, it is still a version of another similar subscription they tested last year. It was known as Delivery Unlimited and offered free grocery delivery for the same $98 a year. They never revealed how many customers actually signed up for that service.

According to a person familiar to the plan, Walmart wanted to launch Walmart+ as an official rebranding of the Delivery Unlimited subscription but the coronavirus pandemic delayed it. 

Retail analysts currently believe that Walmart definitely has the potential to build a steady stream of revenue through this membership however how consumers will take to it is still in the unclear. 

Walmart has announced that all customers who are currently holders of the Delivery Unlimited service will automatically become Walmart+ subscribers with no extra costs involved.

Here it needs to be noted that Walmart’s run with membership programs hasn’t been very encouraging so far. In 2017, they came up with a program known as ShippingPass which offered free shipping on Walmart.com orders. The program, however, was soon suspended and started with free deliveries over $35 on their online portal instead. Thus, it is still too early to concretely speculate on their chances of success with Walmart+.

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