Walmart this week unveiled plans to rapidly expand the reach of its Delivery Unlimited grocery delivery option, saying the paid subscription model was a hit with customers in test markets—and is likely winning digital share for Walmart.
The service gives customers the option of a $98 yearly fee or a $12.95 monthly fee to receive unlimited delivery of online grocery orders. Shoppers may still pay a per-delivery fee, with costs that vary by market and delivery slot.
Tested in four markets earlier this year, Walmart said the Delivery Unlimited service will expand to 1,400 stores this fall–or in all 200 markets in which the retailer offers grocery delivery today.
Delivery Unlimited will also be offered as Walmart expands delivery availability, with expectations that the service will be available in 1,600 stores, or more than 50% of the U.S., by the end of the year.
Walmart has typically proceeded deliberately while introducing digital options before investing heavily in those showing traction. A subscription-based delivery service in addition to providing customers convenience would presumably increase customer loyalty and shopping frequency.
“Grocery delivery takes convenience to a new level, and our customers love it. With Delivery Unlimited, we’re providing incredible value for our customers and leveraging our unique assets to save them both time and money,” Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer of Walmart, said in a release.
Yearly subscriptions for delivery are also offered by Walmart’s grocery delivery competitors, including Instacart, Target-owned Shipt and Amazon.
Walmart will fulfill delivery offers through third-party drivers but in some markets is testing its own crowd-sourced delivery program called Walmart Spark. Walmart has not provided an update on the Spark initiative, which was launched in two markets a year ago. However a website seeking drivers indicates that recruitment is taking place in 38 markets in 19 states.
“We’ve been investing in our online grocery business by quickly expanding our Grocery Pickup and delivery services. Delivery Unlimited is the next step in that journey,” said Tom Ward, SVP of digital operations for Walmart U.S. “By pairing our size and scale and these services we’re making Walmart the easiest place to shop. Combine that with the value we can provide, our customers can’t lose.”
Walmart employs more than 45,000 personal shoppers that power its Online Grocery program, which includes a store Pickup option now in 3,000 Walmart locations. These associates must complete a three-week training program.