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Walmart Plus review: A fast delivery service for groceries and everything else

Walmart's new subscription service offers quick delivery that pays off over time, especially if you want to avoid crowds during the pandemic.

walmart-plus

Walmart Plus is a subscription delivery service for groceries and other products.

Walmart

Grocery shopping wasn't my favorite thing before the coronavirus pandemic, but once March lockdowns and quarantines began, I absolutely dreaded it. Each excursion became a tactical mission to get in and out as fast as possible to avoid catching the virus from other shoppers. It was stressful in the first months, planning trips around shipment trucks to get items before the shelves were stripped bare, and keeping a wide berth around shoppers not wearing masks. Even though time has passed and we've settled (to some extent) into this new normal, grocery shopping still makes me nervous. 

Read more: Walmart Plus: Everything you need to know about the grocery delivery service

In the midst of the pandemic, Walmart launched its delivery subscription service, Walmart Plus in September, offering subscribers same-day grocery deliveries and discounts on gas and in-store Scan & Go. In some ways, it's Walmart's version of Amazon Prime. For $98 a year (or $13 a month), I found that it's worth it for me to get my groceries and anything else I'd find at a Walmart dropped off at my door quickly and without the hassle of going into the store. And with a generous free trial period, the service is worth checking out.

Walmart Plus

Like

  • Easy sign up
  • 15-30 day free trial
  • Very quick express delivery if you live near a Walmart

Don't Like

  • Not all items are available for free delivery
  • Express delivery is $10 extra
  • The shopping interface is a little chaotic in comparison to other grocery apps

Quick sign-up, free trials and contactless delivery

Signing up for Walmart Plus is easy -- just follow the prompts on the website and enter your information. You'll get a 15-day free trial, and when I signed up, I answered a quick three-question survey and got that extended to a 30-day free trial. You'll be asked to enter billing information, but you won't be charged anything until your trial ends. I appreciated that every time I logged on to Walmart's website, it let me know very clearly how long I had left in my free trial. I was never worried that I'd forget and get charged. 

Read more: Walmart Plus vs. Amazon Prime: Price, free trial, grocery delivery and more

Before you check out, you have the option to specify any driver instructions in a text box. You can also just ask that the order be left at your door, but by checking that box, you're also agreeing that you accept responsibility for what happens to your groceries after the driver leaves. 

walmart-plus-porch-dropoff

You can opt for contactless delivery through the Walmart Plus app or website.

Walmart

This might be less of an issue since more folks are working for home, or for those who have smart doorbells. I have a Google Nest Hello, so my phone alerts me whenever someone gets within a certain range of my porch. Walmart also emails you three times during the process, letting you know when your order is received, when it's out for delivery, and if there are any substitutions. The correspondence will also let you know what car your driver will arrive in and their name. If you add your phone number, you'll get text messages about the status of your order.

All of this is to say it's highly unlikely that your order is just going to be dropped off and you won't know. 

Price and delivery minimum

Walmart Plus breaks down to $98 a year, or $13 a month. If you choose to pay monthly, a year will cost about $155.40, so paying annually is less expensive if you're planning to use the service over time. As mentioned, when you sign up, you get a 15-day free trial. When I opted to answer a few survey questions, my free trial was upgraded to 30 days. 

The membership means that you can get "in-store prices" and "as fast as same-day" delivery on more than 160,000 items -- almost everything you'd find in Walmart. In other words, a membership will send just about anything in-store to your door within a day, or even on the same day, with no additional fees. Walmart used to require a $35 purchase minimum but removed it in December -- so now, you can just buy one or two small items and get free delivery. However, if you're only buying groceries, that $35 minimum is still in place.

It also includes savings up to 5 cents per gallon on gasoline at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA, Sam's Club and Murphy Express gas stations nationwide.

Walmart Plus offers some in-store benefits, too: Subscribers will get access to Scan & Go, a feature in the Walmart app that will let you scan items as you shop in the store, and check out using Walmart Pay, so you won't have to stand in a checkout line. 

Simple ordering, through website or app

You can do your shopping on Walmart's website on your phone or computer, or with the Walmart app. The end result is the same, so it's more about what you feel more comfortable using. If you order on a laptop, like I did, all the items are organized by category in scrollable lists. The categories range from specific, like types of coffee creamer, to general, like items you might want for a family movie night. 

reorder

The Walmart Plus app makes it easy to reorder items you buy each week.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The most handy feature is Reorder Your Essentials, which keeps track of items you purchase frequently, so you can quickly add them to your list again without searching for each individually. Another helpful feature is Recommended for You, which offers items similar to what you buy frequently. 

While shopping through the website, you can watch your items get added to your shopping list on the same screen as you search for them, so there's no swapping between windows. Most items will allow you to click Add to Cart, but some might say See Options, which could mean they're out of stock or have specifications. You can also favorite items by clicking or tapping the little heart next to a product. Your favorite items can be found in their own list, which makes shopping even faster. 

There's also the option to make substitution preferences. You can toggle individual items that you're OK with replacements for if they are out of stock, allow all items to be subject to substitution or toggle off substitutions altogether. 

If you start shopping in the app, it'll ask if you want to search items available for pickup and delivery, or shop Walmart.com (the way you would without the service). When I chose pickup and delivery, the app showed me the same items I'd seen on the website version. The categories and personalized lists are all viewable. Shopping by department is a more fluid experience in the app, as the toolbar makes it easier to move quickly through your shopping list without having to stop and type something. 

Prior to testing out Walmart Plus, we had almost exclusively used grocery chain Kroger for shopping. Having tried the store's pickup service, Clicklist, I was familiar with its app, which I found to be a bit more organized and manageable in terms of interface compared to Walmart's. The Kroger app's home page focuses primarily on items you've bought in the past for fast list-making, items that are on sale, and items that have coupons for savings. Walmart's app offers more ways to discover new products and items you might've forgotten to buy before, but it's a bit more distracting, and makes it easier to add items to your shopping cart you may not need. 

Fast, reliable delivery 

I placed my first order on a Sunday around 1 p.m. You can choose from different one-hour delivery slots that day (or on a future day that week). The last slot I could have chosen was 7-8 p.m. that evening. But the service also gave me the option to pay an extra $10 for express delivery, which promises your order in two hours or less.

Since I was doing a smaller grocery order than usual of about $65, I decided to spend the extra $10 for express delivery, bringing my bill to $75 and some change (including tax). 

time-slot

With Walmart Plus, you get to try one Express Delivery for free to get your groceries in under two hours. Or, you can select the time slot you'd like that day or week.

Screenshot by Shelby Brown/CNET

The order arrived in under an hour -- 47 minutes, to be exact. My husband and I were impressed.

We ventured a larger, more traditional grocery list for our next order. I followed the same process -- express delivery, delivery can be left at the door, email and text notifications on. The order was placed on a Thursday around 4:30 p.m. The expected arrival time was almost 6:30 p.m., but the driver pulled up at 5:16 p.m. 

I put in my last order, totaling about $56, without using express delivery. The process was the same until check out. Instead of clicking the express delivery option, I chose a time slot for delivery. I was hoping for an early time since I placed the order at 11 am, but the last two slots available were 6-7 p.m. and 7-8 p.m. I chose the 6-7 p.m. time slot. It might feel like slightly late time windows, but this could be helpful if you're not someone who's working from home. Later delivery times can mean you can make it back home from work -- possibly even with traffic -- in plenty of time. 

I got a text message from Walmart a little after 6 p.m. that said the order was running behind. The driver arrived at about 7 p.m. While it's the later side of the time slot, I appreciated the continued communication from Walmart about the status of my order. I opted for no substitutions, so one or two items weren't in the order. But the majority of the order was present and nothing was damaged.

One important note: I live about 10 minutes away from a Walmart. Walmart hasn't specified how your proximity to a store will affect delivery time, but it's probably safe to assume that the closer you are, the more likely fast same-day delivery would be possible for you. 

Should you try Walmart Plus?

So far, Walmart Plus delivery saved me quite a bit of time that I'd otherwise be anxiously navigating the aisles of the store and spending in check-out lines. The prices have been fair, the drivers I've encountered have been nice, no items have been damaged, and we've only had one item substituted. 

While the service is still relatively new, if you live near a Walmart, or frequently shop at Walmart, I'd recommend taking advantage of the free trial and seeing how you like it. If anything, the Scan & Go feature can make in-store trips markedly less stressful with contactless shopping, if you're not quite sold on delivery. The gas discounts are another added bonus.

If you're interested in doing your grocery shopping at Walmart, Walmart Plus offers a good value -- the service gives its subscribers multiple options to save money, and accomplish grocery shopping quickly and safely.

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