Walmart vs. Amazon: Who will win? Hopefully, shoppers.
En español | The competition between these retail giants is heating up with Walmart's introduction of a new membership service designed to go toe to toe with Amazon Prime — and some savvy shoppers might be able to reap the rewards. Walmart Plus launches Sept. 15 and offers members free same-day delivery on orders of $35 and up, discounts on gas and more. Still, it's no Amazon Prime, which has grown its offerings into a bevy of benefits since its introduction in 2005. On top of free shipping (for two-day delivery and faster options on certain items and in select cities), Prime members get access to streaming video, music, eBooks and more.
But give Walmart some time. “Because Amazon Prime has so many useful benefits, I would expect to see more benefits from Walmart Plus very soon,” says shopping expert Trae Bodge. “I think they will need to offer more soon in order to really compete with Amazon Prime."
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In the meantime, even this first rendition of Walmart Plus may be a good deal for the big-box store's shoppers. “It's less expensive than Amazon Prime, so I do think that a dedicated Walmart customer, especially one who would prefer not to shop in-store or one who wants to get in and out of the store quickly, could find it useful,” Bodge says.
The membership fee for Walmart Plus is $12.95 a month, or a discounted $98 a year. Amazon charges $12.99 a month or a discounted $119 a year for a Prime membership. Both offer free trials: 15 days for Plus; 30 days for Prime.
Indeed, same-day delivery on groceries from Walmart is a major membership benefit of Plus, especially in this age of COVID-19. That is “huge right now as many families increase their reliance on online grocery ordering to save both time and hassle and avoid exposure of going in store,” says budgeting expert Andrea Woroch.
Another in-person benefit for Walmart Plus members: You can speed up your store visits and minimize contact at the register using the Scan and Go feature on the Walmart app. It lets you scan all your items as you're shopping and pay with your phone at checkout, so you shouldn't have to spend too much time waiting in line for the cashier. And you can save on gas — up to 5 cents a gallon at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas stations. (Walmart says the program will soon offer discounts at Sam's Club gas stations, too.)
So should you rush to sign up for Walmart Plus? It depends.
“Ask yourself how often you will use the added benefits being offered and how that will impact your day-to-day life,” Woroch says. “For instance, someone who relies on grocery delivery services and is paying a per-delivery fee would benefit from this service. If, however, this isn't essential to you and you prefer shopping in-store, the added cost may not really be worth the contactless shopping experience being offered."
And if you are still struggling to decide, think about taking advantage of the free trial. If Walmart Plus isn't working out for you after a couple of weeks, you can always cancel at no cost.
Plus vs. Prime: Fees & Perks