American retail commerce is being increasingly funneled into enormous corporations. Amazon rules the roost online, while Walmart’s dedication to low prices and omnipresent stores has let it dominate competition even while in-person shopping declines. Now the two are going head to head: Walmart+ is the retailer’s answer to the Amazon Prime subscription. It launches on September 15th.
Walmart+ will cost shoppers $98 a year, or $12.95 per month if you go for a rolling subscription. That fee gets you free same-day delivery on a selection of 160,000 products, 5 cents off gasoline at Walmart’s increasingly present Murphy USA gas stations, and the option to check out of a Walmart store without a cashier by scanning your purchases into the store’s app.
In terms of pure competition, Amazon Prime has Walmart+ beat, even as the former’s price has risen and its two-day delivery has become less and less reliable. Amazon’s sunk enormous amounts of money into branded platforms like Prime Video and Prime Music, free games on Twitch, and even discounts on products at Amazon subsidiary Whole Foods, among many others.
But Walmart is a force to be reckoned with in American retail. With 4,700 Walmart stores serving as de facto distribution centers, many in smaller towns that services like Amazon Fresh can’t reach, the company has cemented itself immovably into the retail landscape. If Walmart continues to add services to Walmart+—and there’s plenty of incentive for it to do so—this competition could get much more compelling.