Soon, members will receive free next- and two-day shipping on all online purchases regardless of order totals. Delivery from Walmart stores on items like groceries, however, will still carry the $35 minimum.
Walmart said in a statement that the move reflects its promise to add more Walmart+ perks. When it launched in September, that included free delivery of more than 160,000 items on orders of $35 or more, as well as access to a Scan & Go payment option in the Walmart app and gas discounts of up to 5 cents per gallon at nearly 2,000 gas stations. (Walmart is now also adding 500 Sam’s Club gas stations to this list.)
Lackluster benefits, including the $35 order minimum, were one of the early complaints about Walmart+.
In September, Gartner analyst Kyle Rees told Adweek that instead of ordering single items as needed—which Amazon makes easy to do with its Prime membership program—Walmart+ members would have to build bigger baskets. This, he said, made Walmart+ “a harder sell to the impulse shopper who relies on Amazon to complete orders of everyday basics.”
At the time, retail expert Bruce Winder noted that Walmart customers could simply opt for pickup and drive to one of the retailer’s 4,700 U.S. locations to avoid the $35 minimum—and paying $98 to join the program.
“Many retailers have already offered free delivery if you buy $35 worth of product with no fee, so this is not a great deal,” he said.
While chief customer officer Janey Whiteside previously stressed Walmart+ is about saving customers money and time—not Amazon—in a statement about dropping the order minimum, she noted the change helps distinguish Walmart+ further.
“No other membership allows customers across the country to get everything from gingerbread cookies and eggnog to holiday decorations and toys delivered for free as soon as the same day,” she said.
It was not clear what exactly spurred the change, although Whiteside’s statement also said customers “want this benefit.”
Whether dropping the $35 minimum helps Walmart attract new members remains to be seen. A Walmart spokesperson declined to comment on membership figures so far, adding, “We are really excited to have this piece of the puzzle in place.”
For her part, Forrester analyst Sucharita Kodali said, “My head spins with all the different thresholds,” but said removing the $35 minimum should help Walmart compete with Amazon, as well as Target, which doesn’t have a threshold for curbside pickup and has gained market share during the pandemic.