Amazon Prime users, meet Walmart+.
Walmart has announced it will roll out its own subscription-based membership service this month, with many features directly competing with those offered by its giant retail rival, Amazon, including free delivery of items.
The pricing is competitive, too: A Walmart+ membership fee will cost $98 per year, or $12.95 a month, coming in under Amazon Prime's price of $119 per year, or $12.99 a month.
The scheduled Sept. 15 debut of Walmart+ signals a new battle in this clash of retail titans. Walmart (WMT) is already the world’s largest retailer in terms of sales (about $524 billion in 2019, vs. Amazon's $251 billion) while Wall Street sees Amazon (AMZN) as the far more valuable company (worth $1.7 trillion in early September 2020, compared to $409 billion for Walmart).
If you’re wondering whether to subscribe to Walmart+, Amazon Prime, or even both, here’s a look at how the two services stack up.
Walmart+: The new service offers free, unlimited same-day delivery on more than 160,000 items available from more than 4,700 Walmart stores, including groceries, toiletries, clothing and electronics.
Amazon Prime: Prime members can get free two-day shipping on eligible products, free same-day shipping in certain ZIP codes, and even free two-hour shipping on some items, depending on your ZIP. For recurring orders, you can set up a weekly delivery day to help you stay organized.
Walmart+: When shopping in store, members can access Scan & Go through the Walmart app to scan items while shopping, and use Walmart Pay to pay for them without having to wait in a checkout line — an appealing benefit in the COVID-19 world. Shoppers also should be sure to use an app that rounds up your purchases to the nearest dollar, so you can invest your spare change. Walmart plans to roll out a branded credit card and a video entertainment function for Walmart+ subscribers.
Amazon Prime: Prime members can take advantage of Prime Video, which offers: movies and original television shows for streaming; channels like HBO, Showtime and Starz; and Twitch benefits for gamers. Other Prime perks include access to free music, audiobooks and Kindle books, plus Prime Wardrobe, an Amazon service that allows Prime members to try on clothing before purchasing and even utilize a monthly styling service.
Walmart+: Members can get discounts at affiliated gas stations, saving up to 5 cents per gallon at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express stations. The discounts will eventually expand to stations at Walmart’s Sam’s Club wholesale club stores. Using a cash-back card at the pump can help you save even more.
Amazon Prime: Prime members can get deals and special delivery options at Amazon's Whole Foods Market stores, and even free grocery delivery in certain locations.
Which comes out on top? Depends on what you're looking for
Amazon Prime was introduced in 2005 and has had a 15-year head start to refine and add to its list of perks — and sign up more than 150 million paid Prime members globally.
Prime has entertainment options and perks that Walmart+ cannot yet match, as well as a much more expansive retail selection, with tens of millions of products available for two-day delivery and more than 10 million for one-day delivery.
Walmart+ has just tens of thousands of items available as it focuses on same-day delivery. (Walmart.com already offers free one-day or two-day delivery on orders of $35 or more.) But the subscription service's grocery delivery feature is attractive, as Walmart boasts a larger, and often more affordable, grocery business than Amazon.
The lower Walmart+ subscription fees may test Prime users’ loyalty, particularly as Amazon has steadily raised its membership price. And the Walmart+ mix of online, in-store and road discounts could carry unique appeal.
Determining which retail colossus has lower prices can help you decide whether to choose Amazon Prime or Walmart+. A free browser extension can show you whether Amazon or Walmart has the better online deals on the things you normally buy.
To be sure, Walmart will look to expand Walmart+ in the future, with perks and discounts that might close the gap between the two subscription services. The company is offering a 15-day free trial for a membership, for those who want a test drive.