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Walmart tests no-limit online grocery delivery service

Subscription-based Delivery Unlimited would compete with Prime Now, Instacart, Shipt

Walmart has quietly introduced a subscription-based, unlimited-delivery option for its online grocery service.

Dubbed “Delivery Unlimited,” the new service enables Walmart Grocery customers to pay for same-day deliveries of online purchases on a yearly or monthly basis instead of per order. There’s no limit on deliveries for orders of $30 or more.

Subscriptions cost $98 for the annual plan and $12.95 for the monthly plan, compared with a $9.95 or less same-day delivery fee for each order, according to published reports.

Walmart hasn’t officially announced Delivery Unlimited but has posted an FAQ page for the service. The Bentonville, Ark.-based retailer is offering customers a 15-day free trial.

Currently, Delivery Unlimited is being piloted in Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City and Tampa, Fla., according to a Walmart spokeswoman.

“We’re always looking for new ways to serve our customers and are constantly testing new concepts. We know they love Grocery Pickup and Delivery, and we’re exploring options for a program that allows customers to pay a fee for an unlimited number of grocery deliveries,” spokeswoman Molly Blakeman said in a statement.

“It's worth noting that there will always be an option to place an order without paying a monthly or annual fee,” she added.

With Delivery Unlimited, Walmart is taking aim at subscription-based online grocery delivery services offered by Instacart, Target and Amazon.

Late last year, Instacart lowered its annual subscription to $99 from $149 for an Instacart Express membership, which offers unlimited grocery deliveries on orders of $35 or more. There’s also a $9.99 monthly option. Target’s Shipt charges $99 for a yearly membership and $14 per month for unlimited deliveries, with a $35 order minimum. Last week, Target said it has integrated Shipt into, meaning that customers no longer needed a Shipt account for same-day delivery. The company began offering a free four-week trial of Shipt and the option to pay a $9.99 fee for each delivery order on without having to enroll in an annual membership.

Last May, Amazon raised the price of a Prime membership — which provides access to Prime Now same-day grocery delivery (including from Whole Foods Market) — to $119 from $99. There’s also a $12.99 monthly plan. Customers can get unlimited grocery deliveries on orders of $35 or more under. Members of Prime, however, also receive a wide range of other benefits, such as fast shipping options, free streaming media (including movies, television shows and music), free e-books, and exclusive deals and pricing (including in Whole Foods stores).

Walmart’s pilot of Delivery Unlimited reflects accelerated efforts to extend its online grocery reach as well as evolve its service. Just over a week ago, the company unveiled Walmart InHome Delivery, a new service slated to launch this fall in which associates will deliver groceries right to a customer’s refrigerator. Plans call for InHome Delivery to initially roll out to more than 1 million customers in Kansas City, Mo.; Pittsburgh; and Vero Beach, Fla.

During fiscal 2019, Walmart expanded same-day grocery delivery to approximately 800 stores and free grocery pickup to more than 2,100 stores in the United States. That jumped to nearly 1,000 stores for delivery and 2,450 stores for pickup by mid-May. By the end of this year, Walmart expects to have same-day grocery delivery available at 1,600 stores and free grocery pickup at 3,100 stores. The company said that will enlarge its online grocery coverage of the U.S. population to 50% for same-day delivery and almost 80% for pickup.

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