In what it widely assumed to be its response to Amazon Prime, Walmart introduced its Walmart+ subscription in 2020. The service promised next- or two-day shipping on most items, as well as subscriber-only discounts and promotions. In these offerings, it seemed little different from Amazon Prime. But several distinctions have been bolstering the spread and popularity of Walmart+. For example, the discounts it offers include prescription medications, making it especially valuable for people who might struggle to get to a local pharmacy. The price difference is also notable: $98 per year for Walmart+, compared with the $139 annual fee for Amazon Prime. Perhaps the most influential distinction though is one that has gain importance in response to current economic developments and the rising prices of gas. That is, subscribers to Walmart+ enjoy discounts that recently increased to 10 cents per gallon when they buy from fuel maintained by Walmart and Sam’s Club maintain throughout the country. The number of available stations recently jumped to 14,000, due to a new alliance with Exxon-Mobile. For consumers who have been hard-pressed to keep up with the expense of filling their cars, such a discount likely is enough to alter their behavior; as Walmart’s own consumer research showed, 91 percent of its customers complained about gas prices, and half of those planned to change how they drove and purchased as a result. Still, changed behaviors due to higher gas prices also might include people staying home more in the evenings, rather than going out to the movies. On that front, Amazon Prime still maintains an advantage, because Walmart+ cannot provide the wide range of entertainment offerings that come with a Prime membership.
Source: George Anderson, “Will a Bigger Gas Discount Drive Walmart+’s Subscriber Numbers Higher?” Retail Wire, April 28, 2022; Joe Osborne and Antonio Villas-Boas, “Walmart+ Is Walmart’s Cheaper Alternative to Amazon Prime—Here’s What You Get for $98 a Year,” Business Insider, April 28, 2022; Elissa Sanci, “Everything You Need to Know about Walmart+,” The New York Times, April 28, 2022