WALMART PLUS ARRIVES: The retail giant unveils its long-anticipated $98 annual membership offering free grocery delivery and fuel discounts as an alternative to Amazon Prime

Walmart+ Delivery Unlimited 2
Walmart Plus is launching on Tuesday.

Walmart is launching its highly anticipated membership program, Walmart Plus, nationwide on Tuesday.

Walmart Plus costs $98 annually or $12.95 monthly and offers fuel discounts as well as free unlimited delivery of orders of groceries, toys, and more. Walmart typically charges customers a grocery-delivery fee of $7.95 to $9.95 per order.

Walmart Plus members will have the option of same-day delivery of their orders, which will be primarily fulfilled by Walmart stores.

"Members can shop more than 160,000 items at in-store prices, whether that be fresh produce, meat, and seafood to everyday essentials like toothpaste and toilet paper, as well as some toys, electronics, and other general-merchandise items, which can be delivered straight to their door as soon as the same day," Walmart's chief customer officer, Janey Whiteside, said in a recent call with reporters.

Read more: Top Walmart exec reveals the company's playbook for taking on Amazon Prime with its new $98 delivery service

Walmart said members will get fuel discounts of up to $0.05 per gallon at 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations. Sam's Club stations will soon be added to this list, the company said.

Walmart Plus members will also get access to "Scan & Go" in the Walmart app, which enables customers to scan items with their phones while they shop and to check out using Walmart Pay.

Walmart+ Delivery Unlimited

Walmart has been testing the free-delivery perk in some markets since last year as part of a program called Delivery Unlimited. Once Walmart Plus launches, Delivery Unlimited members will automatically become Walmart Plus members.

Whiteside said customers had "loved" Delivery Unlimited.

"We've had really great feedback from customers on how much it's been able to save them time," she said.

How Walmart Plus compares to Amazon Prime

Many analysts see Walmart Plus as a direct competitor to Amazon Prime, which costs $119 annually and offers free two-day shipping on all orders through Amazon.com; free grocery delivery from Whole Foods stores and Amazon Fresh; and movie, TV, and music streaming.

When asked which advantages Walmart Plus has over Amazon Prime or any other membership program, Whiteside zeroed in on convenience, value, and the ability to shop online or in stores. (Walmart has about 4,700 US stores, compared with Amazon's roughly 560 stores).  

"I think Walmart Plus is the combination of the ultimate in convenience and the ultimate in cost savings," she told Business Insider in a recent interview. "Think about the Walmart Supercenter. It has the 150,000 most highly sought-out and curated selection of goods that exists anywhere. And so you have access to that at shelf price — so Walmart's everyday low price with no markup involved — as soon as same-day or two hours if you want to pay for express. That, to me, is a huge, huge, huge advantage."

She said Walmart planned to add to the list of Walmart Plus membership benefits over time.

"These benefits are not intended to be static," Whiteside said. "In the future, we will be leveraging our wide-ranging strengths to add additional benefits for members in a range of both services and offerings."

She also said the company did not plan to provide any perks to Walmart Plus members that could detract from the shopping experience of nonmembers, such as priority for grocery-pickup time slots.

"That was really important for us, as we [thought] about customers who want to benefit from Walmart but don't have the intention or the means to be able to enroll in a membership program," she said.

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