Walmart unveils subscription program to challenge Amazon

NEW YORK – Walmart said Tuesday it will soon launch a long-discussed membership program to provide free delivery and compete directly with Amazon’s popular “Prime” service.

The world’s biggest retailer will offer Walmart+ starting September 15, charging $98 annually or $12.95 a month to provide free delivery as soon as the same day along with discounts on fuel and other features.

“Life feels more complicated than ever. Walmart+ is designed to make it easier — giving customers an option not to have to sacrifice on cost or convenience,” said Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer at Walmart. 

Walmart+ replaces the retail giant’s “Delivery Unlimited” subscription service that offered home delivery of more than 160,000 items. 

The new Walmart venture will also provide discounts of up to five cents a gallon at Walmart gasoline stations and a “scan and go” feature that lets consumers pay for items by scanning them with a smartphone application. 

The latter feature offers a “quick, easy, touch-free payment experience,” Walmart said on its website.

Both Amazon and Walmart have enjoyed strong results during the coronavirus pandemic as consumers have increasingly relied on e-commerce to order groceries and other staples that are either delivered or retrieved at curbside pickup. 

In Walmart’s case, the world’s biggest retailer also benefited from its status as an “essential” store that was permitted to stay open during spring lockdowns at the same time that other stores were forced by authorities to close.

Last month, Walmart reported higher quarterly earnings, due partly to a 97 percent surge in US e-commerce sales. 

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