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Walmart Plus: What you need to know about the new service

Walmart’s subscription service, Walmart Plus, launches Sept. 15. Here’s what to know about it and whether it's worth the $98 annual price tag.
Walmart Plus showcasing headphones grill air purifier office chair. Walmart is launching a premium subscription service on Sept. 15th called Walmart Plus. Here's everything you need to know about the Amazon Prime rival.
An expert gives insight to the benefits of joining the mega-retailers subscription service and how it holds up against Amazon Prime.Walmart

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Walmart just launched its premium subscription service Walmart Plus, offering subscribers of the $98-a-year service benefits like unlimited delivery, discounts on gas and scan-and-go purchasing at any of its physical stores (yes, any of them). During recent months, the retailer has taken steps toward increasing its online and delivery presence in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, partnering with grocery delivery service Instacart to offer same-day grocery delivery. The effort, which is now available starting on Sept. 15, is in direct competition with the Amazon and Whole Foods partnership. Earlier this week, NBC News reported that Walmart plans to test drones to deliver groceries and household items, too. Walmart Plus could become especially beneficial for online shoppers during the holiday season, which is shaping up to look unlike it's ever been for major retailer this year.

SKIP AHEAD Walmart bestsellers

Walmart Plus

Right now, Walmart Plus will run you just under $100 a year or $13 a month — and you can get started with a free, 15-day trial membership. The Walmart Plus membership comes with benefits such as unlimited free deliveries on orders over $35, member prices on fuel at Walmart and Murphy stations, and access to a mobile scan-and-go feature so you can pay as you shop in-store.

For the first time in 30 years, Walmart stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. At the time of the announcement, company CEO John Furner issued a statement acknowledging Walmart associates for their efforts on the front lines of the pandemic. Closing stores on Thanksgiving Day could drive Walmart shoppers online to get ahead of Black Friday deals (and avoid potential crowds). Retailers like The Home Depot have adapted new strategies for Black Friday and holiday shopping this year due to the pandemic, according to a recent report on CNBC.

To help determine whether Walmart Plus is right for you — and how it compares to iconic shopping subscription service Amazon Prime — we consulted a retail expert on the benefits of the service (and who should consider skipping it). Plus, to give you an idea of what you'll find at Walmart, we compiled the brand's bestsellers, including comforter sets, wireless earbuds, virtual schooling essentials, as well as office equipment and more.

If Walmart can streamline the shipping process, it's definitely more appealing than having dozens of orders coming from different parts of Amazon.

Julie Ramhold, consumer analyst, Deal News

What is a Walmart Plus Membership?

Walmart Plus is a paid subscription service for purchasing groceries along with the plethora of products Walmart carries online and in-store. Those who sign up receive perks and benefits when shopping at Walmart and Walmart-owned companies. Service features include:

  • Free unlimited deliveries, as long as you spend at least $35 per order. Additionally, unlimited delivery is not available in all areas: Your safest bet is to check your eligibility by entering your address on Walmart’s site to double-check you’re within the unlimited delivery range.
  • Member prices on fuel — with savings up to five cents per gallon — at select gas stations, including Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express fuel stations. Sam’s Club gas stations are slated to also include Walmart Plus discounts on gasoline, according to Walmart.
  • Mobile scan and go enables in-store shoppers to scan and pay for items as they shop to save time. Customers using this feature must finalize their payment at a self-checkout register. The digital feature can be particularly enticing to help maintain the CDC’s social distancing guidance of standing at least six-feet apart from others. And, according to Walmart, "yes, all locations" offer scan and go.

Walmart’s edge on Amazon would have to be its numerous store fronts, and the benefits Walmart Plus offers to in-store shoppers, such as mobile scan & go and discounts on fuel.

Is Walmart becoming like Amazon?

Walmart's most significant competitor for on-demand subscription service is, of course, Amazon Prime, where users have access to similar benefits such as free two-day and even one-day shipping on eligible items. There are other perks from the online sales giant, too, like Prime Video, Twitch, Amazon Pantry, Amazon Fresh and more. Those additional benefits come at a slightly higher annual cost: Prime memberships run subscribers $119 per year. However, if you are an eligible student, you can sign up for a discount where your first six months of Prime are free.

Walmart Plus features are limited compared to Amazon Prime on the surface, but shoppers should consider investing in both memberships, argued Julie Ramhold, a consumer analyst at Deal News. "Even if a Prime member is taking advantage of all of those perks, they could still find value in Walmart Plus at another $98 per year," she said. Walmart’s edge on Amazon would have to be its numerous store fronts, and the benefits Walmart Plus offers to in-store shoppers, such as mobile scan & go and discounts on fuel. “These are unique offerings you can’t get with Amazon,” Ramhold said.

Walmart Plus also offers same-day grocery delivery, which has become increasingly popular amid the coronavirus pandemic. However, Ramhold pointed out that you'll need to place separate grocery orders when shopping on Amazon Fresh and Amazon Pantry. Walmart Plus, on the other hand, allows you to order both groceries and school essentials in one checkout. “If Walmart can streamline the shipping process, it's definitely more appealing than having dozens of orders coming from different parts of Amazon,” Ramhold added.

If you do not have a Prime membership and you shop at Walmart, this subscription will likely be beneficial to your shopping experience. Ramhold called Walmart Plus a “program to watch” — in addition to its current benefits, the company plans on adding more perks down the line.

You can still shop online at Walmart for a variety of items, including tech and office essentials to furniture, kitchen appliances and more. Here are ten best sellers to shop at Walmart, including comforter sets, wireless earbuds and fitness equipment.

Shop Walmart bestsellers

To give you an idea of what Walmart has in stock and what you can find online or in stores with your Walmart Plus subscription, we asked the brand to share with us bestselling products across various categories and in different price points.

1. Apple Airpods with Charging Case

As wireless earbuds continue to be increasingly popular, none seem to rival the popularity of Apple's AirPods. This latest model includes a standard lightning charging case, which, when fully charged, can provide the earbuds up to three charges. Listen to music or podcasts with high-quality sound and ease and simply double-tap the earbuds to play or skip forward.

2. Nintendo Switch

Nintendo Switch’s sales skyrocketed during the lockdown as people were finding ways to keep entertained indoors. The gaming device includes a charging dock and HDMI cable to hook up to your TV or monitor quickly. The joy-con controllers can be used separately or clicked into the Joy-Con Grip to form one controller. You can also take play on the go, attaching the Joy-Con controllers to the six-inch screen and removing it from the dock. There are various games available to play on your own or with friends.

3. Coway Airmega 200m Air Purifier

As NBC News Shopping previously reported, air purifiers won't the spread of the novel coronavirus, but they can provide better air quality to your home by filtering out pollutants. Coway’s Airmega Air Purifier comes equipped with a HEPA filter as part of a four-stage filtration system. Additionally, there is a pollution sensor to indicate air quality in real-time using brightly colored LED lights. It also tells you when the pre-filter or HEPA filter needs to be washed or replaced. This air purifier is ideal for rooms 361 square feet and smaller.

4. Modway Articulate Office Chair

This simple office chair provides ergonomic support, ideal for your home office. The mesh back provides breathability, while the mesh sponge seat offers support. The back and armrests are both height-adjustable and the chair — which is available in Black, Gray, Green, Red, Blue and Brown — features a 360-degree swivel.

5. Samsung 58-Inch Class 4K Ultra HD Smart TV

If you’re looking for a new TV, you might want to consider Samsung’s 4K Smart TV. It offers 4K UHD resolution and uses Quantum Dot technology, producing over a billion shades of color meant to stay true-to-life, according to Samsung. The device has a dual-LED backlight to enhance contrast details. The Smart TV offers popular streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO and YouTube, as well as a full web browser.

6. Better Homes & Gardens Ravenbrooke 4-Piece Patio Furniture Conversation Set

Enjoy the remaining days of summer in your backyard with this four-piece patio set. The set comes with a loveseat, two swivel rockers and a coffee table. The hand-woven wicker is set over a steel frame that has been UV treated and powder-coated in a matte brown finish to resist rust and stains caused by weather. The plush cushions are also meant to resist weather damage and can be easily cleaned with mild soap and water.

7. Blackstone Adventure Ready 2-burner Outdoor Griddle

If you’re looking for a griddle to end the summer with a socially distanced barbecue, consider Blackstone 2-Burner Outdoor Griddle. The griddle surface is made from cold rolled steel to provide consistent heat and even temperate while cooking. It has a 448-square-inch cooking area and operates on 34,000 BTUs. There is a grease management system in the rear of the griddle for easy cleanup. The griddle also folds up, making it easy to pack up and bring to a camping trip or tailgate.

8. Home Essence Comforter Set

Maybe you recently purchased a new mattress during Labor Day sales and are looking to upgrade your comforter. This cotton comforter set comes with one duvet cover, two standard shams, two decorative pillows and two euro shams. It is also Oeko-Tex Certified, meaning it wasn’t made with harmful substances. The set is available in six colors: Ivory, Blue, Charcoal, Gray, Indigo Blue and Pink.

9. Marcy Recumbent Exercise Bike

Although gyms are reopening across the country, you may want to spruce up your at-home gym with a fitness bike. Marcy’s Exercise Bike has eight magnetic resistance levels and a computer screen that displays speed, distance, time and calories burned. It has a padded adjustable seat and counterbalanced weighted pedals. The bike also includes a two-year warranty.

10. Better Homes & Gardens Nola Narrow Bookcase

Elevate your living space decor with this gold finished bookcase. At 14.5-inches wide, its narrow design makes it friendly for apartment living. It sports five shelves made from safety-tempered glass to display your favorite books, smart art and floral arrangements.

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