After months of speculation, and two months behind its reported July launch, Walmart has finally lifted the veil on its new membership program Walmart+.
At launch on September 15, Walmart+ will give members unlimited free deliveries from stores, fuel discounts, and access to Scan & Go, which allows customers contactless checkout with their phone in any Walmart store so they can skip the lines.
The membership program costs $98 a year or $12.95 per month, compared to Amazon Prime’s $119 per year or $12.99 per month. Walmart will continue to have delivery options with a per-delivery transaction fee, which typically runs $7.95-$9.95 per order.
"Walmart has launched, rebranded, and launched this type of service before," Gregory Ng, CEO at Brooks Bell tells RIS. "The key to making this product launch work relies on consumer psychology not just cost-benefit analysis for Walmart. The reason for the past failed launches may have been the naming or the lack of clarity of the benefit."
Case in point, Walmart’s current Delivery Unlimited service offers unlimited grocery delivery for the same price. With the Plus program launch, existing members will automatically be moved to the rebranded service.
"We’ve seen Walmart take steps towards a more formal membership program in the past through Jetblack and its grocery delivery offering, and the brand seems to finally understand the value customers see from all-encompassing membership programs like Amazon Prime," Rob Fagnani, head of Business Development and Operations, Formation.ai., tells RIS. "For Walmart+ to build loyalty, and sway people away from Amazon, it will have to prioritize understanding individual customer motivations. Gathering this data is the first step to building brand loyalty. From there, it can then deliver effective personalization and leave behind the traditional, segmented approach to discounts and loyalty that isn’t strong enough to pull customers away from a tried and true Prime membership."
One edge Walmart's new program boasts over Amazon Prime is its stores. Walmart+ has the reach of more than 4,700 stores, including 2,700 stores that offer delivery as fast as same day.
“Walmart’s strategy with Walmart+ isn’t about competing against Amazon or Amazon Prime first and foremost," says Meyar Sheik, president and chief commerce officer, Kibo. "There are plenty of consumers who shop at both Walmart and Amazon for different reasons, including product assortment. Walmart is smartly leveraging its massive brick-and-mortar presence to deliver the best possible shopping experience, fusing the e-commerce world with the convenience of your local and familiar Walmart store."
“We are a company committed to meeting our customers’ needs,” said Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer, Walmart, in a press release. “Customers know they can trust us and depend on us, and we’ve designed this program as the ultimate life hack for them. Walmart+ will bring together a comprehensive set of benefits where we see the greatest needs from our customers and where our scale can bring solutions at an unprecedented value.”