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Walmart to trial new subscription service to take on Amazon Prime

Starting in the coming weeks, Walmart will begin piloting a membership program called Walmart+ aimed at taking on Amazon Prime, sources with knowledge of the matter told Recode.

Walmart confirmed it is working on a new membership program but chose not to discuss the matter further.

It appears the initial launch will take the form of a rebrand of Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited service that offers free same-day grocery delivery for an annual fee of $98. But over time, Walmart+ is expected to fold in a range of perks, which, according to Recode, “could include discounts on prescription drugs at Walmart pharmacies and fuel at Walmart gas stations, as well as a Scan & Go service that would allow shoppers to check out in Walmart stores without waiting in line — a tool Walmart briefly tested but discontinued nearly two years ago.”

Of course, Amazon Prime, which launched in the U.S. in 2005 and currently costs subscribers $119 a year, offers a far broader range of goodies in the form of one-day shipping of millions of items, streaming movies and TV shows, and an online library of music tracks and e-books, leaving some to wonder if Walmart+ can really succeed against its mighty competitor.

Amazon is even playing Walmart at its own game, moving into the brick-and-mortar space with the launch of a variety of physical stores, including its high-tech Go convenience stores that let you simply “shop and go,” with your selected items automatically charged to your account. Earlier this week Amazon launched its first full-fledged Go grocery store, and Digital Trends went along to take a look.

Whether Walmart can make a success of its venture depends on both perks and pricing, and whether people will be willing to fork out for yet another subscription service. But in the near-term at least, Walmart can forget any hope of getting anywhere near Prime’s customer base, which the e-commerce giant recently revealed now stands at 150 million subscribers globally.

We’ve reached out to Walmart to ask if it can offer any more information on its plans for a Prime competitor and we will update this piece when we hear back.

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