Retail

Walmart’s New Subscription Service Is Once Again Delayed

In a bid to challenge Amazon, Walmart had planned to launch a new subscription service called Walmart+ in July — but that month came and went, and there was no sign of the retail giant’s next big move.

The plan is to compete with the Amazon Prime subscription service. The Walmart service, which will cost $98 a year, will encompass everything from same-day delivery for grocery and general merchandise to discounts and early access to deals.

According to Vox Media’s Recode, Walmart is “close” to unveiling the service, but it’s unclear whether the retailer has set a new deadline for the subscription program. Other questions remain, including whether the program will be unveiled nationwide or with a more localized rollout.

A Walmart spokesman declined to comment to Recode.

Earlier this year, Walmart said it could start testing the new program as soon as March, but the COVID-19 pandemic pushed back the start date.

While Walmart has a larger stake in the grocery business than Seattle-based Amazon, the Arkansas-based retailer fears that the online giant could eat into its business as more people shift to digital shopping due to the pandemic.

Walmart has a big hill to climb: Amazon Prime has been around for 15 years and now has 150 million members globally. In addition, Amazon Prime offers express delivery of groceries and other items, along with access to a large catalog of TV shows and movies, as well as discounts at Whole Foods stores.

While the pandemic has boosted Walmart’s sales, its eCommerce department is still only around an eighth of Amazon’s. Amazon is valued at $1.56 trillion compared to Walmart’s $337 billion, Vox said.

“COVID-19 has [redirected] the trajectory of subscriptions into the future, because the notions of convenience, safety and access that were appealing to subscribers before have only been accelerated now that they are reconsidering the true cost of going to the store or the mall, browsing aisles and racks, finding something they like and then bringing it home,” Dan Burkhart, CEO and co-founder of Recurlytold PYMNTS.

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