Walmart Bows $98 Subscription Program — Without Free Access to Movies, TV Shows and Music

Walmart Sept. 1 unveiled a much-hyped “Walmart+” $98 annual subscription program aimed at competing with the Amazon Prime membership. While the $12.95 monthly program, which goes into effect Sept. 15,  is $21 cheaper than Prime (over a year), Walmart’s platform lacks key Prime features such as streaming video, music and digital books, among other perks.

Walmart said the aforementioned features found on Prime could be added over time. Some observers had felt Walmart would bundle to the subscription service. Instead, the world’s largest retailer sold the platform to NBCUniversal’s Fandango.

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What Walmart+ does offer is free same-day shipping on myriad store items (over $35) that can be shipped from more than 4,700 stores nationwide; a 5 cents per gallon gasoline discount; and the ability to scan items on the Walmart app and pay without waiting in line.

Calling it the “ultimate life hack,” Walmart said the platform would replace “Delivery Unlimited,” currently available in about 1,000 stores. Walmart’s e-commerce business grew 97% in the most-recent fiscal period to $10 billion.

Chuck Grom, retail analyst with Gordon Haskett Research Advisors, cautions that consumers have been inundated with subscription programs this year, including Disney+, HBO Max and Peacock. He wonders whether the appetite for another plan exists.

“The jury is still out on the ultimate potential of this new offering,” Grom wrote in a note.

Walmart has launched other tech features, including a disc-to-digital platform with studios that enabled users to buy digital codes of their DVD and Blu-ray Disc movies. The program was subsequently offloaded to Vudu, which then allowed users to obtain digital codes from their home.

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