Walmart announced Tuesday that it will launch Walmart+, its highly anticipated new subscription service, on September 15. Although the company says it did not create the service to compete with Amazon Prime, according to reporting by CNBC, many consumers will be stacking the two against each other to see which provides more value.
Walmart+ will cost $98 per year, or $12.95 per month. On an annual basis, that's $20 less than Amazon Prime, which costs $119 a year, or $12.99 a month. Aside from the price, the two subscriptions will vary in some crucial ways.
Walmart already had a grocery delivery service, called Delivery Unlimited, available for the same price. It also offered two-day free shipping for orders more than $35.
However, Walmart+ is designed to offer even more perks. Announced offerings in Walmart+ include discounts on gas for up to 5 cents per gallon, unlimited free delivery, and access to Scan & Go, a feature in the Walmart app. Those who signed up for Delivery Unlimited will automatically become Walmart+ members.
Scan & Go might be especially appealing during the pandemic, says Kristin McGrath, shopping expert at Offers.com, as it allows shoppers to scan items as they shop and not wait in a checkout line.
"It could be really beneficial to those shoppers who want to shop in stores, but who want to minimize contact," she says. "Waiting for shipping or trying to book a curbside pickup slot may not be amenable to some shoppers. Because Scan & Go lets you avoid the checkout line entirely, it makes the in-store shopping experience that much more touch-free."
The company says it will continue to add perks over time. For example, right now gas discounts will be available at Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations, but Sam's Club gas stations are slated to be included soon, according to reporting from Recode. Experts predict Walmart+ could also offer early access to product deals and reserved delivery spots.
Aside from the price tag, Walmart+ and Amazon Prime subscriptions will differ in some key ways:
- Groceries: Walmart+ will offer unlimited free delivery, but subscribers will need to meet a $35 minimum. Amazon Fresh also only offers free delivery on orders that cost $35 or more. "It's worth noting that Amazon Fresh and same-day delivery isn't available in all ZIP codes," McGrath says. "So Walmart+ may provide better coverage to some consumers, given Walmart's footprint in more rural areas."
- Entertainment: Unlike Walmart+, Amazon Prime has a suite of entertainment options that comes with your subscription. "As of now, Amazon definitely takes the lead on entertainment benefits," McGrath says. "It has Prime Video, Prime Music, and other benefits that make it more than a shopping subscription."
So, which one offers a better value? If you already shop online at Walmart and spend more than $98 a year on shipping, then Walmart+ is likely a good deal for you. At Amazon, Prime is generally a good deal if you'd otherwise spend more than $119 on shipping — or if you're also taking advantage of services like Prime Video.
Some experts believe that shoppers will subscribe to both. Almost one-third, 31%, of Amazon Prime members say they would also subscribe to Walmart+, according to an analysis by Fortune.
Ultimately, Walmart+ might be even more attractive to shoppers who want an edge over fellow Walmart shoppers rather than those who want to replace their Prime accounts. Services like Scan & Go will make frequent Walmart shoppers more comfortable as they gear up for a potential second wave of the pandemic.
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