Walmart confirmed they are developing a paid membership program for online shopping called Walmart+ that will launch in beta as early as next month. With this launch, Walmart is attempting to compete with Amazon Prime which currently represents almost 50% of the US online retail market. Walmart, the world’s largest brick-and-mortar retailer, has previously been hesitant to add a fee-based program, fearing that their budget-conscious customers would not support it.
What Is Walmart+?
The launch of Walmart+ could be a rebrand and improvement of its current Delivery Unlimited Program that charges a $98 annual membership fee for unlimited same-day delivery of groceries from one of the 1,600 locations where the program is offered. Walmart has not released any official details on the new program, but according to Vox/Recode, the company will be testing features and price points to attempt to capture a greater share of the online retail market. Citing unnamed sources, Vox/Recode has reported that the company is considering a feature that will allow customers to submit orders via text message. Walmart will likely add additional benefits and discounts on products already available at many of its stores such as prescription drugs and fuel.
How Will Walmart+ Compete With Amazon Prime?
According to the Produce Blue Book, Walmart is the top grocery retailer in the U.S. To stay on top, Walmart+ will offer unlimited same-day grocery delivery from Walmart stores in metro areas, empowering the retail giant to compete with Amazon. Amazon Prime users also have access to same-day grocery delivery from Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh. “Save money, live better” is the Walmart slogan, and low prices on groceries will likely be the way the company will differentiate themselves and market their new membership program. Vox/Recode, the first source to report on Walmart+, stated that over half of Walmart’s top-spending families also have Amazon Prime memberships.
Pharmacy sales is an area of tight competition for major big box retailers. In 2019, pharmacy services accounted for over $20 billion in sales for Walmart, but Amazon continues to attempt to capture more of that market. Amazon acquired the online pharmacy PillPack in 2018, targeting people who regularly refill medications. Walmart+ online pharmacy services may attract existing customers that use the Walmart in-store pharmacy. A customer that needs a one-time prescription filled in the store may connect to Walmart+ for their regularly refilled medications online.
What Are The Benefits Of Membership Programs Like Walmart+?
Although Walmart’s new membership program for online retail sales is more focused than the broad range of offerings in Amazon Prime, Walmart+ could offer unique perks at a lower price point. Additionally, membership programs can build brand loyalty and increase repeat business, which, when competing with Amazon, is vital to the success of Walmart+. Digital marketers know that proactive consumer engagement strategies like membership and loyalty programs can create the personalized shopping experience consumers value and return to.
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