America’s biggest retailers are changing at a breakneck pace. Fueled partially by the industrial shifts of the COVID-19 pandemic, companies like Amazon, Target and Walmart have managed to weather the economic fallout thanks to an increase in online shopping options and in-store regulations.
If other retailers want to compete with Amazon, however, they have quite a long way to go. It’s not as if Target or Walmart has an upcoming fleet of flying delivery drones. Tap or click here to see what your future contact-free deliveries will look like.
But despite Amazon’s head start, Walmart is quickly making some major gains of its own. It’s rumored to be launching a direct competitor to Amazon Prime that includes same-day shipping, fuel discounts and early access to exclusive product launches. Here’s what we know so far.
Enter Walmart +
According to Vox, Walmart aims to join the likes of Amazon with the launch of a new service it’s tentatively calling Walmart +. This information has yet to be officially confirmed but was uncovered based on research and internal discussions within the company.
Walmart + is designed to take advantage of the company’s brick-and-mortar presence without completely sacrificing it. This will supposedly give Walmart + an edge over Amazon Prime thanks to each store’s baked-in product selection, prices and services like the Walmart Pharmacy.
Benefits of membership will include same-day delivery on select goods and products, as well as same-day grocery delivery. There is also talk of prescription drug discounts, exclusive product pre-orders and launches, coupons and fuel savings via Walmart-branded gasoline.
All of this will be possible because of neighborhood Walmart markets, which may serve a double role as distribution centers for delivery. This makes speedy delivery much easier for local residents and makes shipment of items like prescriptions less of a logistical nightmare.
The service is rumored to launch later in July, with an estimated yearly cost of $98. That’s a whole $21 less than a yearly Amazon Prime subscription of $119. The membership is expected to include unlimited same-day grocery delivery and local store shipments, reserved delivery slots, line-free checkout for in-store visits and even an exclusive credit card.
There are also internal talks about launching a streaming platform to compete with Amazon Prime video, but the details on this are scarce. But hey, if you’re going to compete with Amazon, why not go all the way?
We have to admit, Walmart + does sound interesting, and it may help the company position itself as a direct competitor to Amazon. Whether or not it all works, however, remains to be seen.
Will Walmart + be worth switching over to from Prime?
Since the service isn’t live yet, it’s a bit premature to make judgment calls on Walmart +. But based on what we know, here’s a quick comparison chart that breaks down some of the key differences:
|Walmart +||Amazon Prime|
|Free delivery||Yes, with membership||Yes, with membership|
|Grocery delivery||Yes, from local Walmart stores||Yes, from Whole Foods stores|
|Fast shipping (2 days or less)||Same-day delivery, 2-hour delivery||Same-day delivery on select products, 2-day delivery standard|
|Exclusive product launches||Yes||Yes, including pre-order options|
|Brick-and-mortar locations||Walmart Supercenters and Neighborhood Markets||Whole Foods. You can also return Amazon items to Kohl’s locations|
|In-store membership benefits||Yes||Yes, for Whole Foods|
|Fuel discounts||Yes, TBD||No|
|Pharmacy service||Yes, via Walmart Pharmacy||Yes, via Amazon Pillpack|
|Credit card||Yes, TBD||Yes|
|Membership cost per year||$98||$119|
As you can see, Walmart has put a good deal of effort into making its service attractive to existing Amazon Prime customers. Between the cheaper yearly rate and parallel benefits, moving to Walmart + can look like a smart option on the surface.
Of course, there’s also the newness factor to consider. Amazon has had more than 20 years to iron out the kinks in its system, and Walmart is only just launching its competing service.
But if you’re not a fan of either Walmart or Amazon, Target does have an option for at-home shoppers that includes same-day delivery on millions of items sold in Target stores. The service is powered by Shipt, a personal shopper platform, and costs $99 per year after a free four-week trial.
Unfortunately, the only benefit you get from the service is faster shipping. Everything else is just run-of-the-mill Target, but new options for grocery shopping like curbside pickup show that the company is paying attention. We wouldn’t be surprised if Target is cooking up something similar behind the scenes.
So, is it really worth making the switch to Walmart +?
Our suggestion: Keep an eye on Walmart for sure, but wait and see how the reception is before diving in too deeply.
At the very least, Amazon still has one leg up on Walmart when it comes to Alexa, its virtual assistant that can place orders with nothing more than a voice command. Tap or click here to discover these awesome Alexa skills you’ll use all the time.