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While I've always been an online shopper, I know I’m not alone when I say that I’ve been more inclined to use my Amazon Prime account nowadays than ever before, along with ordering my groceries from delivery services like Instacart.
So, when I heard about Walmart+—a Walmart membership for free delivery of in-store products and more exclusive benefits—I was excited to try it.
What is Walmart+?
Included in the Walmart+ subscription is free unlimited, same-day delivery; lower prices on fuel; and mobile scan-and-go capabilities when you shop in-store. For $12.95 per month, all these benefits wrapped into one seem like an incredible deal.
The Walmart+ service is most similar to those like Peapod, where an in-store employee collects your groceries and a third-party driver grabs the groceries to deliver them.
Alternatively, third-party same-day delivery services like Shipt and Instacart Express use an independent shopper to both collect all of your items from a nearby store of your choice and deliver them to you.
With Walmart+, you get access to over 160,000 items available in-store, which rivals services like Amazon Prime. This means you can grab all of your essential items in one go, without having to shop around elsewhere to find what you need.
Not to mention there are a few benefits to Walmart+ that its competition doesn’t offer. You get discounts at the gas pump—members get 5 cents off per gallon at Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express gas stations.
Members also get access to the scan-and-go service, where you can scan the in-store items you want to buy with your phone when shopping in person, pay with a credit or debit card, and head to the self-checkout station when you’re done. Once you’re finished shopping, you’ll scan the QR code generated by the app to get your receipt and let a store associate know you’ve already paid, limiting your contact with a potentially long checkout line.
Here at Reviewed, we’ve already dissected the details of Walmart+, but we wanted to try out the service firsthand. So, I got to test it out for two weeks. Here’s how my experience went.
What we like
Sign-up is a breeze
With a free 15-day trial period that you can cancel at any time, signing up for Walmart+ is extremely easy. Just enter your information and create a password to start adding products to your cart.
There’s just one con to the program: Walmart+ is currently not available in every city, which means you may not be eligible for the free home delivery aspect. For me, this is a bummer. I am currently spending time with family in Florida, where Walmart+ does deliver, but when I’m back home at my apartment in Boston, I won’t be able to use it.
To find out if it’s in your area, just enter your zip code on the homepage.
Same-day delivery is ultra-convenient
When the fridge is empty or you need certain ingredients for recipes that you’ll be cooking soon, same-day delivery can be so convenient.
I placed my order around 11 am, and it included things like produce, body wash, and a bottle of wine. At this point, the 5-6 pm time slot was the only remaining delivery time for the day.
For me, it worked out, but I’ve used services like Instacart in the past, which was much quicker as it usually delivers your groceries within two hours of the time you place your order.
With Walmart+, I did appreciate that the time slot you choose is only an hour window (Shipt also operates this way), because you only have to be “on-call” to put away those groceries for that hour. Instacart’s two-hour time slot is tougher to work with.
You can get everything you need, not just groceries
I am impressed with the selection of items I was able to order for delivery to my home. Walmart+ offers access to groceries, alcohol, toiletries, office supplies, outdoor tools, and even fall décor.
While Instacart, Amazon Prime, and Shipt offer access to multiple brands, Walmart+ is more all-encompassing, since its store is more than just a grocery store. This means that you can get most of what you need—including light bulbs and laundry baskets—in one order. Having to shop at additional retailers can rack up your expenses and time in the long run, so Walmart being a one-stop resource is a definite perk.
Walmart’s substitutions are better than other services
Like many other delivery services, Walmart+ allows you to request specific substitutions for grocery or household items if they don’t have what you want in stock. For example, if you order a coffee creamer in a caramel flavor, you can select your substitution option as vanilla if the caramel is out of stock.
You can also leave the substitution choice up to the Walmart employee who is shopping the store for you, as you can with Instacart. I’ve found that substitution choices are typically hit or miss.
I wanted to give my Walmart+ shopper a shot to see what kind of substitutions he or she would choose for me, so I ordered a small tub of sour cream that was out of stock. My shopper ended up replacing it with a large tub of sour cream at no extra cost. Same with a bag of romaine lettuce. This was a really nice surprise, and it felt like the employees at Walmart went above and beyond to meet my grocery needs.
I don’t know whether the larger-size substitutions was an isolated situation based on the choices of whoever was selecting my items or if it’s a Walmart+ policy. Either way, the experience was much more positive than other delivery services, where substitution choices have felt rushed and not equal with what I had ordered or wanted.
The pricing is on par with other delivery services
A Walmart+ membership costs $12.95/month or $98/year. In comparison, Shipt costs $14/month or $99/year; Amazon Prime, which you need to use Amazon Pantry and Amazon Fresh, costs $12.99/month or $119/year; and Instacart Express costs $99/year. (Note: You can use Instacart for free, but delivery will not be free without an Instacart Express membership). There is no free delivery service with Peapod—it starts as low as $2.95 on delivery, but the rate goes up depending on how expensive your order is.
When looking at the bigger picture, the price difference really isn’t that significant, considering Amazon Prime shipping is always free and any delivery over $35 is free across Walmart+, Shipt, and Instacart.
However, you’ll receive other benefits in your Walmart+ membership—like gas discounts and scan-and-go mobile shopping in-store—that you wouldn’t get with Instacart or Shipt. This could mean more bang for your buck if you get good use out of those benefits.
Walmart does claim that none of its items have any additional markup. On apps like Instacart, I have seen a price markup on products that you wouldn’t otherwise have to pay in-store—this is actually because retailers are allowed to set their own prices specifically on Instacart. This lack of markup may save you money down the road.
With all this said, I didn’t notice a significant price difference in ordering a large grocery haul from Walmart+ over any other delivery services.
When it comes down to it, if you’re not pinching pennies, I don’t think there’s one option that’s better than another in terms of affordable grocery delivery.
What we didn’t like
A lot of products actually ended up being out of stock
When I tried Walmart+, I ordered a large grocery haul, including fresh produce, meats, dry goods, frozen food, and some toiletry items.
For ordering and delivery, I selected a Walmart Supercenter that was close to my home. In comparing it to my own past experiences, the online selection was more comprehensive than I had experienced from other local supermarkets when ordering using Instacart or Shipt.
Once I added and ordered all of my products, I received an email about an hour later warning me about out of stock items before the delivery arrived at my door. I appreciated the few hours of warning.
However, I was pretty disappointed in how many items were out of stock, especially since I ordered from a Walmart Supercenter. Most were fresh produce—apples and tomatoes, nothing exotic—or foods that I didn’t necessarily want substitutions for, like cilantro.
The delivery isn’t totally contactless
When placing an order, Walmart+ gives you the option for contactless drop-off at your doorstep. Similarly to Instacart, Shipt, and Amazon Prime, you’ll get a notification that your driver has arrived, dropped the items off, and left your property.
However, if you’re planning on purchasing age-restricted items with Walmart+, be prepared for some contact. Similarly to other delivery services like Instacart or Shipt, you’ll need to show ID at the point of drop-off.
With Walmart+, you’ll also need to take an extra step by typing in your full name and writing your signature using the driver’s smartphone. My delivery driver was wearing a mask, making the interaction COVID-19 protocol-safe, but the scenario required a lot more contact than I was expecting, especially for a service advertised as contact-free.
I commonly use Walmart curbside pickup for groceries, where they place your groceries in your trunk for you. With age-restricted items, they’ll typically ask to see your ID and are able to scan it without contact.
If you prefer completely contract-free service, I recommend staying away from age-restricted items—like alcohol—with delivery. In my experience, services like Instacart and Shipt involve less contact when accepting an age-restricted delivery.
Should you sign up for Walmart+?
Definitely take advantage of the free 15-day trial—it’s worth trying out the free delivery, along with the member gas prices and scan-and-go capabilities for in-store shopping.
If you enjoy your experience with the delivery process and find yourself making good use of the benefits, then this service may be the best bang for your buck.
My experience overall was positive. I prefer my experience with Walmart curbside pickup over that of Walmart+ delivery, considering there was less personal contact. But, if you prefer to stay at home or don’t have access to a car to pick up groceries, Walmart+ delivery is a great option.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.