Walmart's $98-a-year Amazon Prime rival launches September 15th

Walmart+ is finally here. On September 15th, customers can hand over $98 a year, or $12.95 a month, to join the membership-and-benefits program. The big perk that Walmart+ offers is unlimited free delivery on orders over $35 from its network of 4,700 stores across the US, many of which can do same day. Otherwise, the only other notable feature of the service is fuel discounts, offering “up to” five cents off a gallon at Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas stations. Rounding out the offering is Scan & Go, the company’s app-based shopping service that lets users scan their products on their own phone for faster checkouts.

Walmart+ has been in development since February, but its initial release this summer was pushed back thanks to COVID-19. The company says that when Walmart+ arrives, its existing Delivery Unlimited service will be absorbed into the new platform, with customers moved over automatically. As TechCrunch reports, much of the legwork will be done by partner companies like Postmates, DoorDash and Point Pickup.

The big selling point of this is to expand free, fast and cheap deliveries to the parts of the US that Amazon has yet to reach. Given that services like Prime Now are clustered in around 100 big metro areas, there’s plenty of the US that Walmart can grab. It helps that Walmart’s big footprint and distribution network will hopefully reach folks that feel ignored by the online mega-retailer. 

Unfortunately, Walmart’s sales pitch really hinges on how much you value, or need, more access to grocery deliveries. Amazon Prime can, after all, throw in some attention grabbing extras like a (limited) music streaming platform and video content on top of the basic logistics stuff. It doesn’t help that Walmart’s making Scan & Go a members-only benefit, since it looks like people have to pay for the privilege of scanning their own groceries.

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