Walmart is gearing up to launch a new membership program called Walmart+, a service that’s reportedly being tailored to compete with Amazon Prime by offering deals and services that a Prime membership doesn’t.
A Walmart spokesperson confirmed the program to Gizmodo but declined to comment further on specifics about the service. Citing sources familiar with the matter, Recode first reported that Walmart will soon begin testing the membership and described it as an overhauled version of its current Delivery Unlimited program, which charges users $13 monthly or $98 annually for unlimited grocery delivery.
According to Recode, Walmart is hoping to launch a service that differs from Amazon Prime when it comes to perks and savings, specifically through prescription discounts, fuel savings at gas stations, and a scan-and-go system to save shoppers time in store. Walmart also reportedly hopes to lure in subscribers with its low grocery prices, which might entice families who already have Prime subscriptions but are willing to pay for ease and savings on food that’s more expensive to buy on Amazon. Walmart is also weighing features like text-based ordering, Recode noted.
It’s unclear whether Walmart would keep the same price point for Walmart+ as with its Delivery Unlimited program, but a subscription of around $100 a year would compete directly with Amazon’s own membership, which costs $13 per month or $119 per year for one-day delivery on millions of products. The difference, of course—and certainly one reason Walmart may be eyeing perks like cheaper gas and prescriptions for its own membership—is that Prime offers so many perks it’s impossible for most retailers to compete.
Not only are free one-day and same-day deliveries included on some products and groceries, but Prime memberships also include music-streaming, a subscription video-streaming service, and free two-hour grocery delivery in some areas. And Amazon is gobbling up more and more opportunities for subscription offerings seemingly by the day. As Recode noted, the company in 2018 purchased the online pharmacy PillPack, an acquisition that the industry immediately clocked as a potential threat to competitors like Walgreens and Rite Aid.
But Walmart may have one thing going for its own service that Amazon does not: quality assurance. Recent investigations have found Amazon’s marketplace selling expired and inedible food items and even literal trash—pulled out of actual garbage bins—a result of the company’s quest to be a kind of everything store. And because Amazon shuffles third-party sellers in with legitimate, verified retailers, it can be difficult for users to discern where their products are coming from.
So, sure, Walmart+ may not have all the services included with its membership that Amazon throws in with Prime. But until Amazon can figure out how the hell to better manage its bastardization of e-commerce, a Prime alternative for food and household essentials is looking pretty good from where I’m sitting.
If only Amazon’s most capable competitor wasn’t, you know, also pretty terrible.