Walmart prepares online challenge to Amazon Prime

With more than 4,000 stores in the US alone, Walmart is by far the nation’s largest brick and mortar retailer. But online, it ranks behind Amazon, which claims nearly 40 percent of US online retail sales.

According to a recent story published in VOX, Walmart is about to challenge Amazon’s dominance with a new online service that it has been “quietly working on” for nearly two years.

Named Walmart+, the online membership program is essentially a “rebrand” of the store’s Delivery Unlimited service.

Equipped with the ability to deliver fresh groceries “right into your fridge, even if you’re not home,” the Delivery Unlimited service costs $98 a year and is available in 200 metropolitan locales.

Delivery Unlimited 2.0, aka Walmart+, would compete with the online sales leader, but not literally duplicate it, by offering “perks that Amazon can’t replicate.”

Discounts on prescriptions and gas, as well as a text-messaging process for order and delivery, are rumored to be in the works.

The Scan & Go service that the retailer tested and then discontinued two years ago may also be resuscitated, according to Vox.

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Amazon-like move
A related story in AdWeek reports that the new Walmart+ service “comes at the heels” of another “Amazon-like move” recently completed by the retail giant:

“Walmart is now offering its own fulfillment services for third-party sellers, aptly named Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) … Like Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA), Walmart will store, pick, pack and ship items on behalf of its sellers,” the story continues.

With 50% of Amazon’s sales coming from third-party sellers, Walmart’s decision to include them should help make a hefty challenge to become the consumers’ top online purchasing destination.

But getting there is a long way off. Just over a year ago, Chain Store Age ranked the store third in online sales with 4.6% of the market. The company trailed Ebay’s 6.1% share, and Amazon led the pack with 47%.

The Walmart+ program will begin testing in select markets as soon as this month, according to Vox.