09/17/2020

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Walmart Gears Up to Launch Membership Service



Walmart+ Will Debut in Two Weeks

On September 15, Walmart (WMT) will roll out Walmart+. This subscription service will offer members free delivery for more than 160,000 items, including groceries and other products. Subscribers will also get gas discounts and access to a mobile checkout app when they visit Walmart stores. An annual Walmart+ membership will cost $98. After Walmart+ is up and running, the company may offer even more perks for members.

The program’s launch was originally planned for the spring, but was delayed due to the pandemic. Though COVID-19 has complicated the program’s debut, in some ways, current market conditions may be favorable for Walmart’s plan.

In its latest quarterly report, Walmart announced that its US ecommerce sales were up 97% and its same-store sales in the US rose by 9.3%. The company hopes that Walmart+ will encourage customers who turned to Walmart during the pandemic to stay loyal to the retailer—even after the pandemic subsides.

Comparisons to Amazon Prime

Many are comparing Walmart+ to Amazon’s (AMZN) Amazon Prime service, which has over 150 million members and costs $119 per year. Like Walmart+, it offers grocery delivery through AmazonFresh. Amazon Prime members also have access to online grocery pickup from Whole Foods, a service which began during the pandemic.

In addition to retail perks, Amazon Prime offers subscribers access to a number of TV shows and other media. This will not be a part of Walmart+, at least to start out.

Leveraging Physical Stores

One key difference between Walmart and Amazon is that Walmart has an enormous brick-and-mortar presence. Walmart hopes that in addition to helping its online sales, Walmart+ will drive business at its physical stores. Two Walmart+ perks in particular—access to a streamlined checkout process and gas discounts—are aimed at customers shopping in person.

This is one of several attempts Walmart has made to find its niche in the world of ecommerce. Investors and shoppers are eagerly awaiting Walmart+’s debut in two weeks.


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