Walmart+ is Interesting… But is it $98 Interesting?
Just in case you didn’t already have enough subscriptions to your name, Walmart is rolling out another one. Earlier this week, the retail giant announced the launch of a new service its calling Walmart+. Apparently they wanted to join Disney, ESPN, Apple, and others by tacking on the mathematical symbol — but I digress. The new service will cost customers $98 for a year or $12.95 a month following a 15-day free trial. To answer your next question, that’s $21 cheaper than an annual Amazon Prime membership while the monthly plan costs a whole 4¢ less than Amazon’s. However, the trial period is half that of Prime, which offers a 30-day test run to new customers. In any case, Walmart+ will be available to all customers starting September 15th.
So what do you get for that $98? It seems the main perk is unlimited free delivery, giving shoppers access to ” more than 160,000 items from tech and toys to household essentials and groceries” brought to their door in as little as one day’s time. Incidentally, Walmart currently already offers this service for grocery deliveries under the name Delivery Unlimited — which happens to cost $98 a year or $12.95 a month. Given the similarity between the two services, Delivery Unlimited subscribers will be converted to Walmart+ on the 15th.
While free delivery is cool and all, the aspect of Walmart+ that I’m most excited about is Scan & Go. Apparently, as a Walmart+ subscriber, you’ll unlock this feature within the Walmart app. As someone who’s used Scan & Go at Sam’s Club, I can only describe it as pretty much the best thing ever. That said, it seems as though the Walmart version will operate a bit differently.
Based on the description and a photo that came with the press release, while customers will be able to scan their items as they shop, it notes that they’ll then use Walmart Pay “for a quick, easy, touch-free payment experience.” Since Walmart Pay requires you to scan a QR code that displays on the register, it sounds as though you’ll still need to visit a checkout lane (this is further confirmed by the photo below). This stands in contrast to what I’m familiar with at Sam’s Club where I can complete the transaction on my phone and then show my receipt to the team member at the exit. I suppose certain locations could designate a self-service machine as Scan & Go only to make this process go faster, but I still wonder if it will work as well as its warehouse counterpart.
Also part of the Walmart+ pitch is discounted gasoline. At launch, customers will be able to save up to 5¢ per gallon at Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express stations. Moreover, the perk will apparently come to Sam’s Club fuel locations in the future. Personally, I’m curious why it says “up to 5¢ per gallon,” but I wasn’t able to find more info at the time.
As for my thoughts on Walmart+ overall, while I started this article by comparing the service to Amazon Prime, I actually think that’s the wrong way to frame it. After all, despite Prime still being best known for its free two-day shipping benefit, its streaming service component has continued to grow. Meanwhile, contrary to what the name “Walmart+” invokes, there is no television or film content to be found in this offer. That’s why I’d instead compare Walmart+ to something like Instacart Express — with Walmart+’s Delivery Unlimited origins backing up my assertion. Of course, this updated version does have tinges of Amazon added in given the wider selection of items users can have delivered, but I still don’t see this as much of a Prime competitor (even if that’s ultimately what Walmart wants).
Personally, while I might give Walmart+ a try just to review, I don’t see myself becoming a long-term customer. Between our Sam’s Club membership and Aldi’s new curbside pickup option, we’ve already been doing less shopping at Walmart overall. Additionally, our gasoline needs are so low that the 5¢ per gallon discount really doesn’t move the needle. Finally, while I’m very interested to see what Walmart’s version of Scan & Go will look like (and be very sad to not use it while shopping there), paying $98 for an app sounds like a bad use of my money. Perhaps I’ll change my mind when more information emerges but, for now, I think I’ll take a pass on Walmart+.