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Wal-Mart counters Amazon’s Prime Day with discounts of its own

Walmart Store Front
Mike Mozart/Flickr
Not be outdone by its largest online competitor, Wal-Mart is holding its own day of web discounts. In response to Prime Day, Amazon’s 20th anniversary promotion aimed at driving new sign-ups for its premium Prime service, Wal-Mart announced that it’ll mark down and offer free shipping on “thousands” of products in its digital storefront.

Wal-Mart’s sale will begin the same day as Amazon’s — July 15 — but won’t, president of Fernando Madeira made a point of emphasizing, be locked behind a paywall. “We’ve heard some retailers are charging $100 to get access to a sale,” he said in a blog post on Monday. “But the idea of asking customers to pay extra in order to save money just doesn’t add up for us.”

Greg Greeley, vice president of Amazon Prime, had a few pointed words in response. “We’ve heard some retailers are charging higher prices for items in their physical stores than they do for the same items online,” he said in a statement. “The idea of charging your in-store customers more than your online customers doesn’t add up for us.” USA, LLCWal-Mart will begin offering more than 2,000 discounts and rotating “atomic deals” on Wednesday, a spokesperson told CNET, and will lower the minimum purchase for free shipping from $50 to $35. Additionally, the company will keep the reduced shipping qualification in place for at least a “few weeks” after July 15.

Amazon and Wal-Mart’s dueling sales may be the most public butting of heads between the two retail behemoths, but it certainly isn’t the only instance. Wal-Mart’s working on a subscription service to compete with Amazon Prime that promises free shipping on more than 1 million items for $50 a year, or half the cost of a Prime membership. The incentive for Wal-Mart is customer loyalty — Consumer Intelligence Research Partners reports that Prime members spend about triple the amount on Amazon compared with non-members.

Wal-Mart’s service, called ShippingPass, is a part of the company’s broader initiative to drive sales through improvements to the digital shopping experience. Pick Up Today, a local in-store pick-up option for appliances, electronics, and video games, debuted in 2009, and Wal-Mart last year launched a redesigned website with a focus on mobile and search.

Wal-Mart’s online efforts haven’t been for naught — they helped boost e-commerce sales to $12.20 billion last quarter, a 21.6 percent year-over-year increase. Those numbers may not hold a candle to Amazon’s, but Wal-Mart’s in it for the long haul. It opened a second office dedicated to web sales in Silicon Valley last year, and recently announced $1.5 billion in investments to its e-commerce business.

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