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Walmart launches subscription service, ramps up Amazon rivalry

Walmart will directly take on its fiercest competitor Amazon — and wildly popular Prime membership service — by launching a subscription called Walmart+ that officially debuts on Tuesday. Janey Whiteside, Walmart Chief Customer Officer joins Yahoo Finance’s On The Move panel to share the details.

Video Transcript

ADAM SHAPIRO: Walmart chief customer officer Janey Whiteside, welcome to the program. And I'm curious, because there's so many things you can get at Walmart that you can get at other places. Does this offering work in conjunction with, say, like an Amazon that would charge you? Or do you see this as a potential to take away customers from Amazon?

JANEY WHITESIDE: So we designed this based on what we'd had from our customers, which was pre-pandemic, we talked a lot about our grocery pickup services and people wanting to buy stuff from the store and have it popped into the trunk of the car. What Walmart+ is really grounded in is, as you said, is that delivery of 160,000 items from the supercenter, which is groceries and light bulbs and batteries and everything else that you might want to get, to socks. And we are seeing more than ever, that that's what our customers need and want, which is the convenience of having those delivered same day, up to two hours if you really want them. So if you break your Apple earbuds, you can have those delivered within two hours, or up to seven days for that big shop. And being able to have that convenience when you don't want to or perhaps you can't get out and go into a store is really valuable to them.

JULIA LA ROCHE: Janey, it's Julia La Roche. Thanks for joining us. 90% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart store, more than 4,700 stores. You were just referencing pre-pandemic, you all had tried out delivery unlimited.

I know with Walmart+, you've added the benefits around gasoline discounts, scan and go, that sort of thing. I want to hear about the data that you were seeing, because I know you follow data closely. And how is it helping you run the stores in different localities where you were testing out this product before the debut?

JANEY WHITESIDE: So what this has helped us do is understand really what do customers want and where? And so as we've gone through the pandemic, we've talked a lot about what we saw of people buying differently. What we started to see was that the different degrees of comfort the customers had engaging with us-- so that started by the need for us to trial things, like contactless payment coming into the store. That's really driven-- which has now evolved, and we started to test out scan and go, which is now part of the Walmart+ benefit, where you can get in and out at the store entirely using your app and not needing to actually touch anything except the items you're putting into your basket. And so that was really important for us.

And then we continue to hear that times are tough. And people are looking at their pocketbook. And so your ability to drive up to any of the gas stations and get a discount, again, also super important for our customers as they're out and about.

JULIA LA ROCHE: And, of course, I mean, today's just day one. But I'm curious, what do you see as kind of the evolution of the product? What is kind of going to be the holy grail for you all going forward?

JANEY WHITESIDE: So, look, we're excited by the three benefits we launched with today, which we know are the top three items that our customers really want. No membership program that is great is static by definition. And so you should get ready to see a series of some really small tweaks and exciting things.

We'll bring in some bigger ones, all of which we will lens by what we know our customers want and what we think is unique about our brand, our assets, and our scale. So watch this space. More to come over time.

ADAM SHAPIRO: Got to let you know that the Walmart Supercenter in Windham, Maine, Route 302, has saved us on a couple of occasions. Janey Whiteside--

JANEY WHITESIDE: Good to know.

ADAM SHAPIRO: --Walmart chief customer officer, thank you for joining us. We'll be right back.

JANEY WHITESIDE: Thank you for having me.