Wal-Mart takes aim at a Prime target

An employee pushes shopping carts toward the entrance of one of the Wal-Mart company’s retail stores. Wal-Mart’s online division has launched a free shipping promotion. Joe Raedle/Getty Images

In its latest push to compete with popular online retailers, Wal-Mart has launched a special promotion that will allow its web shoppers to take advantage of faster shipping — for free.

The retail behemoth has announced that it will be offering customers a free 30-day trial of ShippingPass, a service that gives shoppers unlimited, 2-day shipping. The service does not have any minimum purchase requirements, and it offers free returns, both online and in-store.

Customers who already have ShippingPass can still benefit from the promotion: They’ll receive an extra month for free.

Taking on Amazon Prime

“ShippingPass is about half the price of similar programs out there at just $49 a year, and customers who are using it, love it,” says Fernando Madeira, president and CEO, Walmart.com U.S., in a news release. “They shop on Walmart.com more often to take advantage of our low prices, fast shipping and added benefits of no minimum order requirements and free online or in-store returns.”

With its free ShippingPass deal, Wal-Mart seems to be not-so-subtly going after online retail giant Amazon and its Prime service, which offers unlimited 2-day shipping for $99 a year and has a similar free trial period. Amazon Prime also offers its subscribers other services, including streaming music, movies and TV shows and unlimited cloud photo storage.

Walmart’s 30-day ShippingPass free trial comes shortly before Amazon’s second annual, highly-anticipated Prime Day. The sales event — which offers customers thousands of deals across multiple product categories — is expected to occur sometime in mid-July.

The season for deals

The bottom line for consumers: As the competition between the 2 mammoth merchants heats up, consumers will be scoring some major deals this summer.
Which would you rather take advantage of? Walmart ShippingPass, or Amazon Prime?