The e-commerce wars are heating up again.
Walmart has announced that it will be offering free next day shipping for a range of items and that the service will be available without a membership fee. This news comes on the heels of an April 25 announcement that Amazon will be moving to make one-day shipping the standard for Amazon Prime members.
Next day shipping will only be available to Walmart.com customers in Phoenix and Washington initially. The Bentonville-based company plans to expand the service to Southern California and expand it gradually throughout 2019. By the end of 2019, Walmart expects to reach roughly 75 percent of the U.S. population.
The service will be available for approximately 220,000 items that are “most frequently purchased” online. These items include diapers, laundry detergent, toys, electronics and more. Next day shipping also has a minimum purchase order of $35.
Both Walmart and Amazon offer two-day shipping; Amazon provides the service through Amazon Prime, which costs $12.99 per month, while Walmart’s service is available without a membership – though there is a minimum purchase amount of $35.
Historically, Walmart has been behind Amazon in the e-commerce arena. Amazon Prime was launched in 2005, offering free two-day shipping for an annual fee of $79. Walmart only launched its two-day shipping service in January 2017.
According to Marc Lore, President and CEO of Walmart e-Commerce U.S., the move to next day shipping will benefit both customers and Walmart. While customers will receive packages quicker, the company will reduce shipping costs, Lore says.
“Contrary to what you might think, it will cost us less – not more – to deliver orders the next day. That’s because eligible items come from a single fulfillment center located closest to the customer. This means the order ships in one box, or as few as possible, and it travels a shorter distance via inexpensive ground shipping,” he says.