Walmart is sweetening the deal for the shoppers it wants to win over from Amazon.com by offering a free one-month trial of “ShippingPass,” its answer to its online rival’s wildly successful Prime subscription plan.
The world’s largest retailer, looking to rev up online sales growth that has sagged in recent quarters, said on Tuesday it was as of Friday offering a free 30-day trial ofShippingPass. That annual subscription service, like Prime, offers members unlimited free two-day shipping (that was three days until recently for Walmart) and no order minimums. The program’s cost is $49 a year, compared to $99 for Amazon Prime.
In its most recent quarter, Walmart reported global e-commerce sales rose 7%, their slowest rate of growth yet. Meanwhile, Amazon’s sales rose more than 20%, thanks in large part to Prime. Prosper Insights and Analytics, a retail data firm, estimated last month that one-third of American adults are Prime subscribers. Walmart’s e-commerce sales came to nearly $13 billion last year, or about one-sixth of Amazon’s total.
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Walmart has a lot of work to do to get consumers to consider signing up. A year ago, Prosper surveyed shoppers on their interest in ShippingPass program and found that 12.4% indicated they would be “likely” or “very likely” to subscribe. Now, according to a survey published this week, that has risen to 14.8%, a slight improvement at best despite improvements to the subscription offering.
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PG checked out Walmart’s ecommerce site. Others may have a different response, but it felt several years behind Amazon. PG checked some comparable prices. In all cases, Amazon was either less expensive or the same price as the same item at Walmart.
For those online shoppers who live in states with no physical Amazon presence and who occasionally “forget” to pay their state use tax when Amazon doesn’t collect the sales tax, Walmart’s ubiquitous presence in every state (and thus its obligation to collect sales tax in every state) may also be a negative.