Walmart is rolling out its newest and much-anticipated attempt to compete with Amazon Prime: a membership service that will give customers free shipping on tens of thousands of items, including produce and groceries.
The service, Walmart+, will cost $98 a year. That is lower than the $119 charged for Amazon Prime, which set the bar for e-commerce membership services, but Walmart+ will require an order of at least $35 to qualify for the free shipping, while Prime does not have a minimum.
Walmart said many of the 160,000 items that would qualify for the free shipping would be delivered directly from its stores to customers’ homes. Walmart hopes, with its thousands of stores closer to customers, that the strategy will help keep food fresher and costs lower than competitors’. Walmart+ members will also receive a 5-cent-a-gallon discount at affiliated gas stations.
“We are developing a product that is grounded in meeting customers’ needs,” Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer, said in a conference call on Monday.