Walmart bets inflation will push customers to join subscription service

Walmart launched its subscription service, Walmart+ in 2020. It added perks including deeper gas discounts and free access to Paramount+.


Americans have tons of subscriptions.

Even with inflation, walmart think they are willing to pay for one more.

Walmart’s subscription service is Walmart+. The program includes benefits such as free shipping for online purchases, free deliveries from store, and gas discounts. This debuted in September 2020, a time when many shoppers were trying to avoid stores due to Covid-19.

Two years later, the retailer faces a very different context. Walmart’s e-commerce growth rate has slowed. More shoppers have returned to stores and more are skip discretionary purchases as they spend more on food, rent and other necessities.

Now Walmart will have to prove that its subscription service can thrive in a tougher climate.

Chris Cracchiolo, head of Walmart+, said signups and renewals for the service have been steady in recent months. Service members tend to be younger, more tech-savvy, and more affluent than the typical Walmart shopper.

Yet he said Walmart+ has also attracted many consumers on a budget: About 1 in 4 Walmart+ members receive government-provided food assistance benefits.

These demographics could be a promising sign for Walmart+ as it navigates a segment that quickly sorts winners from losers.

Sea of ​​subscriptions

Some subscription services struggle to retain customers. netflix and personal styling service stitch correction are among the companies that have lost customers. At the same time, club memberships grew. Costco continued to attract new members and Sam’s Club, owned by Walmart, achieved record membership numbers. Sam’s Club does not disclose its number of members.

The company thinks Walmart+ is more like a club membership, which shoppers use to stock up on essentials, than a streaming service that subscribers can ditch after a favorite show’s season ends. , then renew when the series returns.

Cracchiolo, a American Express veteran, said Walmart+ is well positioned to grow even at a time when Americans have tighter budgets and weigh the risk of a recession.

The big-box retailer is looking at value-driven benefits as inflation is at its highest level in nearly four decades. These include deeper gas discounts and new digital coupons, which steer Walmart+ towards the club category. In August, it added Walmart Rewards, a program exclusive to Walmart+ members that lets them save money on items and apply those savings to future purchases. Then, in September, members started getting free access to Paramount+.

It already included grocery perks, like free home delivery on orders of $35 or more.

Even before inflation pressured wallets, some market research firms pointed to Walmart+’s slow membership gains, especially compared to competitors. Amazon Prime.

Walmart+ membership has hovered between 11 million and 11.5 million over the past three quarters, according to estimates by market researcher Consumer Intelligence Research Partners based on quarterly consumer surveys and industry research. This translates to approximately 25% of Walmart’s online shoppers.

Amazon Prime, which debuted in 2005, has about 168 million members in the United States as of June 30, according to CIRP. About 70% of its online shoppers are members, according to the company’s estimates.

Walmart did not disclose the number of subscribers. However, its executives said on a recent earnings call that Walmart+ has added paying members to the program every month since the September 2020 launch.

“That’s when we come in”

Walmart could also get more perks this holiday season, like early and exclusive access to top items like video game consoles. The company hasn’t announced its Walmart+ vacation plans, but last year this gave Walmart+ members the first information about the deals.

The retailer is on a roll to expand its customer base: Walmart’s reputation as a discounter has attracted higher-income shoppers in recent months. About three-quarters of Walmart’s grocery market share gains were from clients with an annual household income of $100,000 or more during the quarter ended July 31.

This dynamic will also boost Walmart+ membership, Cracchiolo said.

“This is when Walmart shines,” he said. “That’s what we do best. When there’s uncertainty, when there’s inflation, when clients have really tight budgets. That’s when we step in. . And Walmart+ membership is on steroids. What we’re seeing is more customers actually seeing the need.”

He said busy families are the core demographic of Walmart+ — a profile that matches about 50 million households in the United States. Customers who are part of the program spend about twice as much as non-members, he added. Moreover, it earns money through subscription fees. Members pay $12.95 per month or $98 on an annual basis.

Its members fill bigger shopping carts, visit its stores and website more frequently, and shop in more departments, he said.

“For us, it’s about developing a relationship with a customer where it’s not just a transaction,” he said. “The more we can offer customers that help them in their daily lives, the more we build that emotional connection with the customer.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *