Walmart, in an initiative first reported by the tech website The Information, is preparing a subscription service that offers fast shipping as a competitive move against Amazon Prime. A Walmart spokesperson, Ravi Jariwala, told HomeWorld Business that the initiative would launch as a beta test this summer.
He said the shipping service would cost subscribers $50 a year, with products arriving in three days or less, and would be subject of an invitation-only limited market test. He declined to say how the invitation element would operate.
Jariwala pointed out that the subscription service is one of several Internet-focused tests that Walmart has been launching of late.
“We are testing a grocery delivery and pickup service in a couple of markets,” he noted.
The delivery/pickup service is available in Denver, Phoenix and Huntsville, AL presently. Shoppers using the service can purchase fresh fruit, meat, groceries and other food products as well as health and beauty, baby, pet and laundry products as well as office items, including tablet computers. Orders have a $30 minimum and Walmart is offering system users a $10 “e-voucher” for referrals with an ability to distribute notification by social media. Anyone joining the grocery service via referral also gets a $10 e-voucher.
Walmart has been investing in online capacity to expand its range of capabilities as it more aggressively pursues web-focused shoppers in the United States and elsewhere. Just days ago, the Xinhua News Agency reported that Walmart has teamed with e-tailing giant Alibaba on a mobile payment system that initially will cover 25 Wal-Mart stores in south China.