Walmart will take on Amazon with a new unlimited shipping service, starting this summer. The service will cost $50 per year, undercutting Amazon Prime's $99 service. Walmart, "the world's largest retailer," says that delivery will take three days or less. Amazon promises delivery in two days, with some products available for same-day shipping.
The new service will be invitation-only to start. More than 1 million of the company's top-selling items, such as electronics, will be included in the program. These items will be flagged or labeled as eligible, separating them from the more than 7 million products available online.
At launch, the as-yet-unnamed service will not offer free video or music streaming, which Amazon Prime does offer. However, the big-box retailer could offer video streaming through its Vudu service at some point in the future. Amazon Prime also comes with unlimited photo storage and access to the Kindle e-book lending library, which Walmart doesn't offer.
There is no word on when Walmart's service might be available to mainstream consumers, and it's unclear who will be given access to the beta program. Walmart already offers grocery delivery and in-store pickup services in five areas, including Hunstville, Alabama; Phoenix; San Jose, California; Bentonville, Arkansas; and Denver. The company has also experimented with, and ultimately shuttered, a subscription-based sample box service.