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E-Commerce

Walmart's New Membership Program Piques Online Shoppers Interest

Walmart+, Walmart's new membership program launching Sept. 15., has online shoppers expressing interest in the new program, a new study finds.

9/14/2020
bar chart showing shoppers interest in Walmart+
Frequent online shoppers are more interested in Walmart+, the retailer's new membership program slated to launch Sept. 14

CHICAGO -- Walmart Inc., the No. 3 in the 2020 Digital Commerce 360 Top 100 -- an annual ranking of North America’s leading retailers -- can expect a warm response to its new Walmart+ membership program from consumers who shop online frequently.

In a Digital Commerce 360 survey, 47.7 percent of consumers who shop online at least once a week said they are very (19.2 percent) or somewhat (28.5 percent) likely to sign up for Walmart+. Even among members of the Amazon Prime program of arch-rival Amazon.com Inc., 42.7 percent express interest in the membership program Walmart announced last week. Walmart plans to launch the program on Tuesday, September 15th.

“The big takeaway is that quite a few consumers may be interested in another program like Amazon Prime, and it may be that shopper satisfaction with Prime and its convenience makes them more inclined to try a program like Walmart+,” says long-time e-commerce consultant Lauren Freedman, now director of consumer insights for Digital Commerce 360.

She notes that 88 percent of the survey respondents -- who were limited to consumers who shop at least once a month online—belonged to Amazon Prime, an indicator of how popular Prime has become among heavy online shoppers.

The coronavirus outbreak also likely contributes to consumer interest in Walmart+, Freedman says. “More shoppers are now buying groceries online, and Walmart is the country’s leading grocery retailer and has reported a big increase in online food sales,” she says. “Plus, many consumers are consolidating their purchasing among fewer retailers and Walmart seems to be among those gaining ground as a result.” Walmart did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

 
 
Overall, 41.1 percent of the 604 online shoppers surveyed said they were very (14.9 percent) or somewhat (26.2 percent) likely to join Walmart+. The membership program will offer free shipping on online orders of more than 160,000 items shipped from stores, a discount of up to 5 cents a gallon at 2,000 Walmart stores and Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas station, and a faster way to pay in-store using the Walmart mobile app. Membership will cost $98 a year or $12.95 per month.


Interest in the program is higher the more often a consumer purchases online, with 56.5 percent of those who shop websites daily indicating interest in the program, versus 46.6 percent of those who shop online a few times a week and 42.9 percent of weekly online shoppers.

OTHER FINDINGS FROM THE SURVEY SHOW

 
• Of consumers who currently shop on Amazon.com and not Walmart.com, 29.8 percent say they are interested in joining Walmart+. But among those who shop on Walmart.com, including those who shop on Amazon, 52.6 percent say they are at least somewhat likely to sign up.

• There was little difference by gender, as 41.5 percent of men and 40.8 percent of women said they were somewhat or very likely to join Walmart+.

• Among those who said they were not interested in the program, the main reason given was that they already belong to Amazon Prime and don’t want to pay for another program (61 percent). That was followed by 26 percent who said they were not sure if they would get free shipping as the no-fee offer only applies to items shipped from Walmart stores (26 percent).

Freedman says that if Walmart+ does succeed it could put pressure on other retailers, especially supermarket chains and other big grocery retailers like Target Corp., to either introduce similar paid membership programs or at least offer more free shipping of online orders. “Free shipping is increasingly an expectation among online shoppers and always a customer favorite,” she says.

Only 6 percent of retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 Top 1000 rankings of North America’s leading online retailers offer a paid membership program. However, 24 percent offer some kind of loyalty program.

Digital Commerce 360 conducted the survey via Survey Monkey on Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, two days after Walmart announced the planned launch of Walmart+. 
 
About Digital Commerce 360

Digital Commerce 360 is a leading media and research organization that delivers daily news and competitive data across retail and B2B e-commerce. With over 20 years of experience in e-commerce reporting, Digital Commerce 360 is an expert in digital strategies and publishes a wide range of products including reports and newsletters, Internet Retailer magazine, webinars, and data on thousands of global e-commerce companies through its Digital Commerce 360 Research brand.
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