Walmart goes big on its new grocery delivery membership program

The Delivery Unlimited program is expanding to over a thousand more US stores.

Ben Fox Rubin Former senior reporter
Ben Fox Rubin was a senior reporter for CNET News in Manhattan, reporting on Amazon, e-commerce and mobile payments. He previously worked as a reporter for The Wall Street Journal and got his start at newspapers in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Ben Fox Rubin
2 min read
Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images

Walmart is opening another line of attack in its fight against Amazon , and this time it's bananas.

The world's largest retailer, Walmart said Thursday it's expanding its Delivery Unlimited grocery delivery program later this fall to 1,400 stores in the US. The company first tested the program in Houston, Miami, Salt Lake City and Tampa earlier this year.

The Delivery Unlimited membership costs $98 a year or $12.95 a month. That's below the cost of Amazon's rival Fresh program, which costs $14.99 a month on top of a $119 Prime membership. The cost of each food order, of course, is extra.

Walmart said it will also continue to provide its Grocery Delivery program, which lets customers pay per delivery without a membership fee. Delivery Unlimited will now be available in all the same 200 metro areas Grocery Delivery is already available, and both will grow together.

The expanded grocery service is another way Walmart is working to boost its online sales, which have been showing healthy growth in recent quarters, while also fighting against Amazon, the world's biggest online retailer. With Walmart being the biggest grocer in the US, protecting its fresh food business from Amazon and its Whole Foods chain is vital for its long-term growth.

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Amazon, meanwhile, has been working to expand in the grocery business with its slow-growing Fresh delivery program and Whole Foods, which it bought for $13.2 billion in 2017. Selling groceries is a valuable business for both companies because it's massive -- worth hundreds of billions of dollars in the US -- and brings in weekly revenue from shoppers.

Beyond groceries, Amazon has been working to transition its Prime service to one-day shipping, from two days, Soon after Amazon's announcement of that goal, Walmart unveiled its own one-day delivery plans.

Walmart said Thursday its grocery delivery programs, which are powered by 45,000 personal shoppers, will be available in 1,600 stores and cover more than 50% of the US by year's end. The Delivery Unlimited membership comes with a 15-day free trial.

Walmart also lets customers buy groceries online and pick them up in store at nearly 3,000 stores. It's tested the concept of in-home grocery delivery, too, in which a worker would enter someone's home and put their grocery order directly in their fridge. The idea there is to avoid the need for delivery windows and the potential of leaving fresh food and meats outside.

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