Walmart Now Offers Free Shipping, Rivaling Amazon for the Holidays

Walmart store sign

This morning, Walmart (NYSE: WMT) announced that it would eliminate shipping costs for its Walmart+ members effective Friday. Previously, free shipping was available only on orders totaling $35 or more.

Which Is Better?: Walmart+ vs. Amazon Prime

Walmart’s membership program was launched two months ago and is designed to compete with Amazon Prime, offered by Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). It comes at a slightly lower annual rate, $98 versus Amazon’s $119, but it also lacks benefits that Amazon offers such as its streaming video service. Amazon Prime has offered free shipping regardless of order size since its inception.

More to Choose From: Free Delivery Options To Get You Through This Holiday Season

The change gives Walmart+ members free next-day and two-day shipping on non-perishable items. Grocery deliveries will still require a $35 minimum but are often available for the same day. Amazon’s grocery delivery service, Amazon Fresh, has the same $35 minimum.

Find Out: How Much Is Amazon Worth?

Online shopping was popular before the pandemic, and Amazon Prime customers appreciated the ability to check items off their errand lists without worrying about shipping costs. Social distancing has increased interest in delivery for more products. Walmart+ was introduced in response to that. Walmart has a way to go to match Amazon in online sales, however. ABC News reports that market research firm eMarketer has Walmart on track for 6% of online sales for 2020, versus 38% for Amazon.

Winning the 2020 Holidays: Amazon Says This Was Its Biggest Holiday Shopping Weekend Ever

Amazon Prime has amassed 150 million members worldwide since it was introduced in 2005. Walmart+, as a new program, has far fewer participants. Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer, would not give The Associated Press a membership number. Curious about perks beyond shipping for the holidays? Find out which stores have the best and worst return policies before buy your gifts.

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