ShippingPass, which launched last year as a direct competitor to Prime, was, until now, only available to an undisclosed select number of shoppers. The Wall Street Journal reports that Walmart is investing $2 billion in the service, which will see a shift of inventory into eight massive warehouses around the country. The initiative will also be getting an expanded online inventory to allow the retail giant to compete with its online peers.
The service's pricing is what sets it apart from other two-day shipping programs. At $49 per-year, Walmart has cuts the price of its main competitor Amazon Prime ($99) in half, and those already paying for ShippingPass will get a month free.
“ShippingPass is about half the price of similar programs out there,” Fernando Madeira, CEO of Walmart.com, said in a blog post.
But "similar" should be taken lightly here. ShippingPass doesn't come with the movie, TV show, and music streaming services Amazon Prime offers. And, at least for now, there aren't any exclusive offers like the 20 percent off new video games Prime members enjoy, or the recently introduced discounts on phones with built-in ads.
But Walmart does plan on going head to head with Prime Day, an online Black Friday for Prime members. Huge discounts will go live on Walmart's site tomorrow, allowing participants to use a 30-day free trial of the two-day shipping service in order to take advantage of the sale. July is shaping up to be a great month for online buyers with Prime Day scheduled for July 12.
"Once you start using it, it’s hard not to notice the everyday low prices on the stuff you need and want," Madeira said.
Walmart has had a rough time since Amazon opened its online marketplace. In 2015 it suffered its first year-to-year shrink in revenue since opening up 45 years earlier. It's been experimenting with its business model in recent years to try and take back its place as the world's biggest retailer by market value, a position it lost to Amazon last year.
Now it seems Walmart has taken a break from its own sometimes off-the-wall ideas and stolen a page from the book of its biggest rival, while adding in some advice from its iconic yellow rollback smiley face.