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.
Despite Amazon’s head start, Walmart is quickly making major gains of its own. It recently launched a direct competitor to Amazon Prime, including same-day shipping, fuel discounts and early access to exclusive product launches. And the service just received a significant upgrade that might sway you to give it a look.
Walmart+ gets major upgrade
Walmart is aiming to join the likes of Amazon with its subscription service called Walmart+. It launched a few months ago and has already been successful. But the company just made a huge change to the service to attract more customers.
Initially, subscribers would have needed to meet a $35 minimum order to receive free shipping on certain orders from Walmart.com. Just in time for the holidays, that minimum order is being dropped starting Dec. 4.
Walmart+ members will get free next-day and two-day shipping on items shipped by Walmart — no matter the basket total. Delivery from Walmart stores on items like groceries will still carry the $35 minimum.
Walmart+ is designed to take advantage of the company’s brick-and-mortar presence without completely sacrificing it. This will seemingly 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. According to Walmart, here are some of the perks you will get with Walmart+:
- Unlimited free delivery: In-store prices as fast as same-day on more than 160,000 items from tech and toys to household essentials and groceries. This service was previously known as Delivery Unlimited – a subscription service that allows customers to place an unlimited number of deliveries for a low, flat yearly or monthly fee. Current subscribers will automatically become Walmart+ members.
- Scan & Go: Unlock Scan & Go in the Walmart app — a fast way to shop in-store. Using the Walmart app, customers can scan their items as they shop and pay using Walmart Pay for a quick, easy, touch-free payment experience.
- Fuel discounts: Fill up and save up to 5 cents a gallon at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express fuel stations. Sam’s Club fuel stations will soon be added to this lineup.
All of this will be possible because of Walmart Neighborhood Markets, which may serve a double role as distribution centers for delivery. This makes speedy delivery much easier for locals and makes shipment of items like prescriptions less of a logistical nightmare.
The service costs $98 per year or $12.95 per month and includes a 15-day free trial period. That’s $21 less than a yearly Amazon Prime subscription of $119.
There are also internal talks about launching a streaming platform to compete with Amazon Prime video, but the details 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 from Prime?
Here’s a quick comparison chart that breaks down some of the key differences between Walmart+ and 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 more affordable 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 run-of-the-mill Target, but new grocery shopping options 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.
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.