Walmart is taking aim at Instacart, Target’s Shipt and Amazon Prime Now/Whole Foods with a new grocery delivery subscription service called simply, “Delivery Unlimited.” Before, Walmart shoppers could order groceries online and pick them up at their local store for free or they could opt to pay the $9.95 (or sometimes less) per-order delivery fee. Delivery Unlimited is a third option that offers consumers a way to skip the per-order fee in favor of a monthly or annual subscription.
Currently, the retailer is offering a $12.95 per month plan or a $98 per year subscription, both of which include a 15-day trial period (see below).
Everything else about the service is the same.
You’ll still shop online or in the Walmart Grocery app, build a basket and pick a time slot for your order. There aren’t any restrictions on delivery times, either. It’s just another way to pay for your online orders — and one that could potentially save you money if you order groceries online from Walmart more than once per month.
At $98 per year, Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited service is competitively priced.
Shipt today charges $99 annually, and Target just this week announced a way for Shipt shoppers to pay a per-order fee of $9.99 for the first time, with a Shipt integration on Target.com. Instacart, meanwhile, cut its annual fee to $99 in November. Prime Now is the most expensive option at $119 per year. But of course, it includes more than just grocery delivery — Prime is a comprehensive benefits program that includes fast shipping from Amazon.com, access to streaming services, free e-books and more.
It’s unclear how broadly available Delivery Unlimited is today. The FAQ on Walmart’s website only vaguely answers a question about availability, saying that “there’s a good chance Delivery Unlimited is in your area.”
We reached out to Walmart for details, and the company the pilot is running across a few U.S. markets: Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City, and Tampa. Pricing is being tested and may change, it says.
The official Walmart Grocery FAQ makes no mention of a subscription option at this time, and there’s been no formal announcement.
Unlike some grocery delivery businesses, Walmart doesn’t operate its own network of delivery professionals or independent contractors. Instead, Walmart partners with delivery providers across the U.S., including Point Pickup, Skipcart, AxleHire, Roadie, Postmates and DoorDash. It has also tried, then ended, relationships with Deliv, Uber and Lyft.
Walmart’s heavy investments in online grocery have boosted its bottom line. Grocery, along with the growth taking place across the home and fashion categories, has helped the retailer grow its e-commerce sales. In the first quarter, e-commerce sale were up 37%, Walmart said, with earnings per share of $1.13 versus $1.02 expected, and revenue of $123.93 billion above the $125.03 billion estimated.
The retailer currently offers grocery pickup at 2,450 locations and delivery at nearly 1,000 locations. It says it’s on track to offer pickup at 3,100 stores and delivery at 1,600 by the end of 2019.
Update, 6/17/19, 10 AM ET: Added Walmart comment confirming it’s a pilot.