Walmart marketplace moves to free 2-day shipping with no membership

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Walmart have announced that they are ‘working with their sellers’ to make millions of products available with free 2-day shipping in time for Christmas. They are also copying eBay and going big on the no membership required messaging.

This is an obvious play against Amazon – in the US, 2-day shipping is the norm due to the size of the country and no membership mirrors eBay’s messaging emphasising that there’s no need to pay for Amazon Prime in order to get great service and prices.

“Two years ago, we launched free two-day shipping with no membership fee on millions of items that customers buy the most on Walmart.com. Customers love the offer and the ability to get products quickly without having to pay an annual fee. In the coming months, you will see millions of additional items with the two-day free shipping label as we work with hundreds of our high-performing marketplace sellers to extend the offer to their eligible items.”
– Walmart

Walmart expect free 2-day shipping to become the norm for most of their largest merchants by November and at the same time are rolling out their in-store returns service to include products sold by marketplace sellers. Walmart say that 90% of Americans live within 10 miles of a Walmart store. Interestingly, whilst shoppers can return marketplace products in-store and shop in-store on Walmart.com at kiosks, they’re unable to purchase from marketplace sellers on Walmart.com in-store.

Free 2-day shipping obviously puts pressures on merchants as it’s an express service and there’s a financial implication compared to economy services. Walmart say that free 2-day shipping will be available on orders of $35 and over, but if a shopper buyers multiple items from multiple sellers it’s not clear if merchants will be expected to ship one low cost product on free 2-day shipping or if the order has to be for products from a single merchant.

Free 2-day shipping also puts the greatest pressure on small merchants with limited stock and single location warehouses. If a retailer has warehouses in multiple states they can ship from the location nearest to the consumer, but for a small retailer shipping long distance can quickly see costs escalate.

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