Walmart launches Walmart+ a subscription service that competes directly with Amazon Prime and costs only $98 a year or optionally $12.95 a month. Walmart’s membership option is now available to customers across the country. Membership includes free 15-day trial period.
“We can’t wait for customers to use Walmart+ as a way to keep more time on their calendars and money in their pockets,” said Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer, Walmart. “We designed Walmart+ to be the ultimate life hack for customers, pulling together benefits they told us would be most helpful to them today and in the future. Its usefulness will only grow from here.”
The initial list of Walmart+ benefits is below. The company says that the list of benefits will continue to grow over time:
- Unlimited free delivery: In-store prices as fast as same-day on more than 160,000 items from fresh produce, to milk, eggs and bread to tech and toys to household essentials. This service was previously known as Delivery Unlimited – a subscription service that allows customers to place an unlimited number of grocery 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.
Walmart+ Goes Head To Head With Amazon
Walmart has long coveted a subscription service to go head to head with Amazon. They tried three or four times but this one is different. Walmart+ combines both their grocery and their general merchandise strength which is really trying to recreate the supercenter online through a subscription service. If they can use the frequency of their food business to also help sell their general merchandise line they can mix it out better and hopefully get to profitability sooner.
Retail has actually been better (this last quarter) than most people have expected. It’s not been even. There have been categories and retailers who have struggled. By and large, its help up pretty well. The pandemic accelerated digital ecommerce development by five to ten years. If you were not up to speed on that or didn’t get up to speed very quickly you would be behind. As we head into the fall it will be really interesting to see how it goes.
Holiday Selling Season Uncertain
Typically, Black Friday and Cyber Monday, that weekend has been really critical to the selling season. If you missed that it would be very difficult to have a really good holiday selling season. With the delayed openings now and Thanksgiving not on the line, the focus is going to be online and there won’t be as many in-person Black Friday deals. It’s going to be difficult for retailers to make up all that volume online. The holiday selling season is going to be a bit uncertain.
I’m really speaking from the consumer perspective when I say that digital ecommerce accelerated by five to ten years in the last six months. It accelerated at that pace and people had to head in that direction. That is likely where retail is going to head but it is going to still be a mix. The vast majority of retail will remain brick and mortar but ecommerce will take a larger role in the facilitation by online pickup in store. Customers are now completely blending the omnichannel retail experience.
The Amazon Effect: Digital Sales Rule!
There’s also been really a change from an investment standpoint. This has been really more the Amazon effect than anything I can think of. Five years ago, it used to be, grow your profit faster than your sales and your share price would move forward. Now, if you’re not growing digital sales at a hyperactive rate it’s really hard to get a good valuation on your company. Walmart is a great example of a retailer employing this strategy.
They’ve invested a ton of money, almost a third of their operating income they’ve given up in order to build an ecommerce business. Yet, investors have rewarded them by buying their stock. It’s near historic highs.