What's likely retail giant Wal-Mart's least-favorite made-up holiday, Amazon Prime Day, happens on Tuesday. Is the company worried about ceding ground to the online shopping giant? It sure feels like it with two of Wal-Mart's recent moves; they involve a new option to pay with mobile devices and a flat-fee shipping program for web purchases.
Let's stat with Walmart Pay, the mobile option. Mobile payments are a frustratingly slow-moving area of shopping with different standards including Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, Android Pay, competing and typically not offering all options to all shoppers. Rather than accept all those already-in-use services and lose payment fees, Wal-Mart has created its own pay system, rolling out to 4,600 stores. Rather than paying with a wireless tap of the phone, as NFC technology does, users must scan a QR code from the register using the company's existing Walmart app.
In a more obvious case of borrowing an idea that's working for a competitor, Wal-Mart is also rolling out ShoppingPass, a $50-a-year service that gives you unlimited 2-day shipping, a lot like Amazon's $99 Prime service. Unlike Prime, however, ShoppingPass doesn't also include access to streaming TV and music services or ebooks, add-ons that have made Prime more attractive than just a shipping-fee option.
Will the new services make shopping with Wal-Mart easier, or just complicate things for customers who already pay for Prime or have a preferred mobile payment service in use? We'll have to wait and see.
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