Walmart is about to launch a direct competitor to Amazon Prime called Walmart+.
Even though Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, according to 2019 data from the National Retail Federation that included sales from Sam's Club, the company trails Amazon in e-commerce sales. Amazon is the largest e-commerce retailer in the U.S, according to analysis by eMarketer. Last year, Amazon accounted for almost half, 47%, of all online sales, while Walmart accounted for 4.6%.
"Walmart is late to the party, as for years they seemed to underestimate the importance of e-commerce," says subscription pricing expert Robbie Kellman Baxter, author of "The Forever Transaction."
Here are the differences between Walmart+ and Amazon Prime, and how to decide if you need one or both.
Walmart already had a grocery delivery service called Walmart Grocery available for the same price and offered two-day free shipping for orders more than $35. However, Walmart+ is meant to offer even more perks. Some of the offerings in Walmart+ include:
Walmart might also bring back its "Scan and Go" shopping option, says Offers.com shopping expert Kristin McGrath. "This would allow shoppers to scan items with their phones and not have to wait in a checkout line," McGrath says. "If you've seen checkout lines these days, which wind around the store due to social distancing requirements, it's pretty clear why this could be a really compelling perk for in-store shoppers."
As of now, Walmart+ will not be offering a streaming service comparable to Amazon Prime's. And because such little information has been released, it's hard to say whether Walmart's prices on home appliances or other nongrocery items will be lower than Amazon's.
However, Walmart+ has some unique offerings and advantages that Amazon Prime does not, says Baxter. "Walmart claims that 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart. That's great news for same-day delivery and for groceries," she says. "They also have the ability to provide gas discounts, which is a major spend for many shoppers."
"To evaluate whether [Walmart+ is] a good deal, consumers should ask themselves how often they already take advantage of Walmart's grocery services, delivery, and curbside pickup," McGrath says.
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 subscribe to Walmart+, according to an analysis by Forbes.
"If you shop primarily at Walmart for groceries but take advantage of a lot of Amazon Prime's other perks, having both could be a good fit," McGrath says. "Someone might use Walmart+ for grocery delivery and curbside pickup, but still get a lot out of Prime Video and fast Prime shipping on items Walmart doesn't sell."
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. This is especially true of Walmart+ perks like reserved delivery slots and open-slot notifications for grocery delivery, as many shoppers anticipate using grocery delivery services more as the pandemic continues.
"If those benefits give Walmart+ subscribers an edge over regular shoppers, that's a potentially huge benefit, especially during the pandemic, when delivery slots are hard to come by," McGrath says.
Baxter agrees that shoppers might find use for Amazon Prime and Walmart+: "Just like with the streaming wars, many shoppers will find that they need both."
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