Walmart is primed to roll out free next-day delivery – without a membership fee – in select markets.
Weeks after Amazon officials said they planned to offer free one-day shipping to Prime members, Walmart announced Tuesday it is adding free “NextDay” delivery in Phoenix and Las Vegas before expanding to Southern California “in the coming days.”
“It will roll out gradually over the coming months, with a plan to reach approximately 75% of the U.S. population this year, which includes 40 of the top 50 major U.S. metro areas,” said Marc Lore, Walmart eCommerce U.S. president and CEO, in a blog post.
The free NextDay delivery is available on eligible orders over $35 and up to 220,000 frequently-purchased items including diapers, laundry detergent, electronics and toys. Prime costs $119 a year.
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Walmart hinted that one-day shipping was coming on April 26, the day Amazon made its announcement.
“One-day free shipping…without a membership fee. Now THAT would be groundbreaking. Stay tuned,” Walmart tweeted.
Sucharita Kodali, an analyst at Forrester, said Walmart’s announcement is great for consumers and also shows Walmart “is playing hard and playing competitively.”
“I think the timing of this definitely suggests that this is to prove to anyone who thinks that the Amazon announcement a few weeks ago was a gamechanger, that Walmart can go toe to toe with Amazon in something like next-day delivery,” Kodali said.
But, she thinks in-store pickup and curbside pickup is a winning strategy and more efficient.
By the end of the year, Walmart plans to offer Grocery Pickup from 3,100 stores and same-day Grocery Delivery from 1,600 stores, Lore said in Tuesday’s announcement.
Lore said the shift makes “good business sense” and will cost the company “less – not more – to deliver orders the next day” because the orders will come from a single fulfillment center located closest to the customer.
“This means the order ships in one box, or as few as possible, and it travels a shorter distance via inexpensive ground shipping,” Lore said. “That’s in contrast to online orders that come in multiple boxes from multiple locations, which can be quite costly.”
Amazon announced Monday plans to help existing employees start their own small delivery businesses and that it’s expanding its Delivery Service Partner program to include an incentive of up to $10,000 in startup costs.
The e-commerce giant also said this week that it is testing using machines to pack customer orders.
How Walmart’s new NextDay works
- To view items that are eligible for free NextDay delivery, go to Walmart.com or the Walmart app and select NextDay delivery at the top of the website or app where it is available.
- For your order to qualify, everything in the cart must be eligible for NextDay delivery. Cut-off times vary by location.
- Eligible items come from a single fulfillment center located closest to the customer.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko