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A woman pulls groceries from a cart to her vehicle outside of a Walmart store in Pearl, Miss. Walmart is launching a new membership service for shoppers this month called Walmart+.

Julio Cortez/The Associated Press

Walmart is launching a new membership service that it hopes can compete with Amazon Prime.

Called Walmart+, it will cost US$98 a year, or US$12.95 a month, and give members same-day delivery on 160,000 items, a fuel discount at certain gas stations and a chance to check out at Walmart stores without having to wait at a register.

Walmart has a long way to go to catch up with Amazon Prime. Launched in 2005, Prime has more than 150 million members worldwide who pay US$119 a year, or US$12.99 a month, for faster shipping and other perks, such as discounts at Amazon’s Whole Foods supermarkets and access to its video streaming site.

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Walmart’s online sales are growing rapidly, especially during the pandemic, when more people have turned to the company to order groceries online and pick them up at a store. But the world’s biggest retailer is still a distant second online to Amazon. Walmart is expected to take 6 per cent of all online sales in the U.S. this year, compared to Amazon’s 38 per cent, according to market research firm eMarketer.

Last week, Walmart emerged as a possible suitor for the U.S. business of TikTok, the fast-growing video app with more than 100 million users. Analysts have said the bid with tech company Microsoft could be a way for Walmart to grow its online shopping business and connect with millions of young shoppers.

Janey Whiteside, Walmart’s chief customer officer, said it wasn’t launching Walmart+ to compete with any other shopping membership.

“We’re launching it to meet the needs of our customers,” she said. “And it really was designed to make their busy lives easier.”

Walmart+ members will still have to spend at least US$35 online to qualify for free same-day delivery. Items are delivered from stores, which typically costs as much as US$9.95 for non-members. The 160,000 items that qualify include groceries, toys, electronics and household items, such as toilet paper and soap.

Members will get a discount of up to 5 US cents a gallon at Murphy gas stations or at the 2,000 Walmart locations that have gas pumps. The company said it’s working to add more gas-station chains to its list.

At its stores, members can unlock an app to scan items as they shop and pay without having to stop at a cashier.

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The company said Walmart+ will launch Sept. 15.

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