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Walmart launches subscription service Walmart+ to rival Amazon Prime

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Walmart rolled out a new subscription service Tuesday offering free shipping for online orders, in its latest move to compete with Amazon.

The service, dubbed Walmart+, will deliver more than 160,000 items to subscribers’ homes as fast as the same day for $98 a year or $12.95 a month starting Sept. 15. Members will also get discounted fuel prices and access to the mega-retailer’s “Scan & Go” tool, which lets shoppers skip checkout lines in stores by scanning items and paying on their smartphones.

“Customers know they can trust us and depend on us, and we’ve designed this program as the ultimate life hack for them,” Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer, said in a statement.

The service is slightly cheaper than Amazon Prime, which also offers free shipping for $119 annually or $12.99 a month. But Walmart+ orders must be worth at least $35 to qualify for free delivery, a requirement Prime does not have.

Walmart’s membership also lacks the free movie, TV and music streaming that Amazon Prime customers get. The Arkansas-based company said it plans to add more benefits for Walmart+ subscribers over time.

Walmart’s announcement nevertheless sent its stock price up 2.4 percent in premarket trading Tuesday to $142.26 as of 7:17 a.m.

Walmart+ builds on an existing service called Delivery Unlimited, which similarly offers free deliveries for a flat fee. Delivery Unlimited subscribers will automatically become Walmart+ members when the new service launches, the company said.

The service’s launch comes amid an explosion in Walmart’s e-commerce business as the coronavirus pandemic forced many consumers to shift their shopping online. The company said its US online sales nearly doubled in the second quarter as a growing number of shoppers picked up web orders from store parking lots.

Walmart is also working with Microsoft to bid for TikTok, the popular video-sharing app whose Chinese parent company is searching for a buyer under orders from President Trump. Analysts say Walmart could use the platform to further bolster its online sales or to sell ads.

With Post wires

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