Walmart is killing off its Amazon Prime competitor in favor of offering free shipping on more items. The old service, named ShippingPass, started trials nearly two years ago, charging a $49 annual membership in exchange for free two-day shipping. The new system means that this service will be available on more than 2 million items to any customer, although there is a minimum purchase price of $35 (previously $50).
Free two-day shipping will be available on a number of common items, including â€œbaby necessities, pet products, food, like cereal and peanut butter, cleaning supplies and beauty favorites.â€ Walmart also offers same-day pickup on items in some 4,600 stores, and online grocery pickup at 600 locations.
In a press statement, Marc Lore, head of Walmartâ€™s e-commerce division described free two-day shipping as â€œtable stakesâ€ for online retailers, telling reporters he hoped the move would â€œbuild loyalty.â€ However, itâ€™s not clear if Walmartâ€™s offer will be preferred by customers.
Although the change means free two-day shipping on many items without a membership fee, customers may still prefer paying Amazon $99 a year for additional benefits. Prime includes two-day free shipping without a minimum order price, free one-day deliver if available, and access to the likes of Amazon Video â€” the companyâ€™s Netflix competitor. Although the exact number of Prime members isnâ€™t known, estimates suggest more than half of US Amazon members are already signed up.
Whether or not Walmartâ€™s change will help it compete with Amazon in the e-commerce space isnâ€™t clear, but the move shows how Jeff Bezosâ€™ company has redefined expectations for online shopping. If free two-day shipping is now â€œtable stakes,â€ what else can be offered to sweeten the pot?