Retail

Walmart teases launch of Walmart+ membership program as e-commerce sales surge during pandemic

Key Points
  • Walmart CEO Doug McMillon spoke about the strategy behind the membership program, but didn't share the date of the launch or the perks it will include.
  • The retailer had previously confirmed it was preparing to debut the service, called Walmart+.
  • "We think that assortment breadth and our ability to deliver with speed nationally combined with a few other benefits for customers will result in a compelling proposition," McMillon said.
Customers shop at a Walmart store on May 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.
Scott Olson | Getty Images

Walmart gave investors a few hints about its forthcoming membership program Tuesday, saying it will offer customers benefits like speedy deliveries and low prices.

For the past few months, investors and analysts have watched and waited for the launch of Walmart+. The big-box retailer confirmed in late February that it's developing the subscription-based service. It's expected to rival Amazon Prime with perks aimed at driving sales and loyalty.

Walmart CEO Doug McMillon acknowledged there's "a lot of buzz" around the service and laid out a bit of the retailer's strategy on a Tuesday earnings call. He said the program will emphasize customer experience with benefits, such as fast, convenient pickup and delivery. For the retailer, he said, it will strengthen relationships with shoppers. That will encourage repeat and bulk purchases and provide data about customer preferences, he said.

He did not say when Walmart+ will launch and what it will cost.

McMillon said Walmart has learned from its unlimited grocery delivery membership service, which it has tested since late last year.

"Since that launch we have proven to ourselves that we can pick and deliver a broad set of categories across the Supercenter — not just food and consumables, but a wide assortment of general merchandise," he said. "We think that assortment breadth and our ability to deliver with speed nationally combined with a few other benefits for customers will result in a compelling proposition."

E-commerce sales in the U.S. grew by 97% in the second quarter, which ended July 31, as shoppers bought items ranging from fishing poles and TVs to groceries during the coronavirus pandemic

McMillon said it's variety of options, from curbside to delivery, acknowledge "the customer is ultimately in charge."

"We're going to have multiple ways to serve them, and those families will decide in that moment how they want to shop," he said. "And sometimes they'll be in the store, and sometimes they'll do pickup, and sometimes they'll do delivery, and many of them will buy a membership, and when they do they'll get benefits from that."

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