Wal-Mart Rolls Out Cheap Shipping to Vie With Amazon

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Wal-Mart is taking on Amazon Prime with a new, unlimited shipping service. At $50 per year, the three-day-or-less shipping option costs roughly half of what Amazon customers’ pay ($99) for an annual subscription to Prime.

According to Tech Crunch, Wal-Mart plans to test its unlimited shipping service this summer. It will be by invitation only for now.

Although Wal-Mart offers more than 7 million products online, during beta trials, just more than 1 million items will be eligible for the free shipping service.

“The idea with this forthcoming Amazon Prime alternative, however, is not necessarily to test whether customers want fast, free delivery (Prime has proven that they do) but whether Wal-Mart could interest them in the option at a lower-price point,” Tech Crunch said.

One key question is whether consumers are willing to wait an extra day for Wal-Mart’s service, which is a three-day-or-less option. Amazon Prime guarantees two-day delivery on millions of items.

But the comparison is not quite apples-to-apples. A Prime membership also includes a free Kindle lending library, unlimited Cloud photo storage, Prime Instant Video, and an ad-free music streaming service.

According to Forbes, Wal-Mart could consider adding extras, like a Vudu streaming video option, in the future.

But it could be difficult to lure consumers away from Amazon Prime, even with a lower price point.

“I think Wal-Mart customers might bite, but there is nothing about this program that would make someone like me switch,” Paula Rosenblum, managing partner at RSR Research, told Forbes. “On the most basic level, their assortment isn’t as broad. Then there are all [Amazon Prime’s] extras … and Prime Now, which I don’t use often, but really comes in handy once in a while. Wal-Mart may roll it out, but I don’t see huge uptick.”

I’m with Rosenblum. I’m a loyal Amazon Prime customer. Plus, even though Amazon guarantees two-day shipping, it still takes three days for packages to be delivered to our small rural town. I wouldn’t be willing to wait yet another day. We also use Prime Instant Video and the Kindle lending library. Amazon Prime is a good bang for the buck for our family.

Are you an Amazon Prime customer? Is Wal-Mart’s cheaper shipping option enough to woo you away from Prime?

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