Since watching its online business grow as more people opted to shop from home during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, Walmart is looking to capitalize on consumers' growing interest in convenience-based shopping... and to compete with e-commerce retail giant, Amazon. To that end, Walmart will launch a new membership program named Walmart+ in mid-September, offering subscribers a mix of in-store and online benefits including free delivery on orders of $35 or more.
"We are a company committed to meeting our customers' needs," Walmart's Chief Customer Officer Janey Whiteside said in a statement shared with Romper. "Customers know they can trust us and depend on us, and we've designed this program as the ultimate life hack for them. Walmart+ will bring together a comprehensive set of benefits where we see the greatest needs from our customers and where our scale can bring solutions at an unprecedented value."
For an annual membership price of $98 (or $12.95 a month), Walmart+ subscribers will gain access to unlimited free delivery on more than 160,000 items spanning the retailers tech, toys, grocery, and household essential categories. Previously known as Walmart's Delivery Unlimited program, current subscribers of that program will automatically become Walmart+ members when the service launches.
Walmart+ also comes with access to Scan & Go, a section of the Walmart app that allows customers to shop in store even faster. With Scan & Go, customers can scan items as they shop and pay using the touch-free Walmart Pay. Subscribers to Walmart+ will also save 5 cents a gallon at Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations. Sam's Club gas stations are expected to be added to the list of gas stations offering special savings to Walmart+ customers soon, the retailer has said.
While the service feels a lot like an attempt to compete with Amazon's $119 annual Prime membership, Whiteside told CNBC Walmart was more interested in providing customers with greater convenience than competing with Amazon. "We're not launching Walmart+ with the intent to compete with anything else," the news outlet reported Whiteside said on a press call. "We're launching it to meet the needs of our customers, and it really was designed to make their busy lives easier. We think that it offers a comprehensive suite of in-store and online benefits that help people save time and money across a variety of areas."
At $119 a year or $12.99 a month, Amazon Prime gives subscribers access to unlimited two-day free shipping on a number of products as well as access to Amazon's video streaming library. At its launch, Walmart+ is not expected to include any streaming benefits, although the retailer has promised its list of Walmart+ benefits will grow over time.
"Life feels more complicated than ever. Walmart+ is designed to make it easier — giving customers an option to not have to sacrifice on cost or convenience," Whiteside said in a statement shared with Romper. "We know shopping should fit customers' needs, not the other way around. We have always been a champion for the right item at the right price, but now it's more than that. We have the right shopping solutions at the right time, too."
Walmart+ memberships will be available to all customers beginning Sept. 15 with first time-subscribers eligible for a 15-day free trial.