Walmart fights back against Amazon with one-day shipping in some US markets

Walmart’s one-day shipping marks the latest salvo in a fight between two retailers that have consistently tried to outdo each other. (Reuters)
Updated 14 May 2019
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Walmart fights back against Amazon with one-day shipping in some US markets

  • The Walmart deal will be available to online shoppers in Phoenix and Las Vegas and then expand to Southern California in the coming days
  • The service will be rolled out gradually, with a plan to reach approximately 75 percent of the US population this year

WASHINGTON: Walmart is stepping up its battle with Amazon.com by offering one-day delivery without a shipping fee, weeks after Amazon announced a similar offer — a move that will intensify the race to deliver orders to shoppers faster.
On April 25, Amazon said it plans to deliver packages to members of its loyalty club Prime in just one day and expects to spend $800 million toward the shipping goal in the second quarter alone.
Walmart’s offer applies to fewer products. As many as 220,000 items, which are the most frequently purchased, ranging from laundry detergent to toys and electronics will qualify for one-day shipping. The orders have to be worth at least $35 to qualify.
The Walmart deal will be available to online shoppers in Phoenix and Las Vegas and then expand to Southern California in the coming days, the head of its US ecommerce service, Marc Lore, told Reuters in an interview.
The service will be rolled out gradually, with a plan to reach approximately 75 percent of the US population this year, which includes 40 of the top 50 US metro areas, Lore said.
One-day shipping marks the latest salvo in a fight between two retailers that have consistently tried to outdo each other in everything from online order delivery to grabbing a bigger share of the online grocery market. Walmart started offering same-day pickup in its stores in 2011 and caught up with Amazon’s two-day free shipping two years ago by offering it without a membership fee. It has made progress in closing the gap with its e-commerce rival by rolling out services such as curbside grocery pickup and same-day grocery delivery — options that have quickly become popular with shoppers.
Amazon, on the other hand, has hastened to reproduce the assets of brick-and-mortar rivals such as Walmart and has a mixed record with those projects. It is now racing to open shops with top-selling items ranging from books to cell phones; rolling out same-day curbside grocery pickup and gearing up to accept returns at all US Kohls Corp. department stores.
“We have been working on this since I have gotten here ... we have been building out the infrastructure for the last few years to support this,” said Lore, who joined the retailer in 2016 when it acquired his company, Jet.com.
The vast majority of the order volume for such a service comes from the “first couple of hundred thousand” products, he said.
The move will cost Walmart less as orders will be delivered from warehouses closer to the customer and arrive in a single box instead of multiple packages, Lore said.
“It is counter-intuitive... but the way we have structured our network, we will see improved profitability as a result of lower shipping cost,” he said.
Walmart sends out boxes from multiple warehouses around the country under its two-day shipping program, but with one-day shipping, it is stocking inventory in the closest single warehouse to the shopper, Lore said.


Oil prices jump as US crude stocks fall, Middle East worries add support

Updated 46 min 32 sec ago
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Oil prices jump as US crude stocks fall, Middle East worries add support

  • Analysts said the gains were mainly driven by American Petroleum Institute data showing a fall in US crude inventories
  • Data come as traders watched for any signs that tensions between the US and Iran could escalate into military conflict
SYDNEY: Oil prices rose more than 1 percent on Wednesday to their highest in nearly a month as industry data showed US crude stockpiles fell more than expected, underpinning a market already buoyed by worries over a potential US-Iran conflict.
Front-month Brent crude futures, international benchmark for oil, were up 1.3 percent at $65.91 by 0341 GMT. They earlier touched their highest since May 31 at $66 a barrel.
US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures were at $58.98 per barrel, up 1.8 percent from their last settlement. WTI earlier hit its strongest level since May 30 at $59.03 a barrel.
Analysts said the gains were mainly driven by American Petroleum Institute (API) data showing a fall in US crude inventories.
US crude stockpiles fell by 7.5 million barrels in the week ended June 21 to 474.5 million, compared with analyst expectations for a decline of 2.5 million barrels, the data showed. Crude stocks at US delivery hub Cushing, Oklahoma, fell by 1.3 million barrels.
“Oil prices went ballistic after the API report,” said Stephen Innes, a managing partner at Vanguard Markets.
“Oil prices have been squeezing higher on escalating tensions in the Middle East. But with late-day draws showing up in the API report, this is a strong signal for the energy market,” Innes said.
The data came as traders watched for any signs that tensions between the United States and Iran could escalate into military conflict.
US President Donald Trump threatened on Tuesday to obliterate parts of Iran if it attacked “anything American,” in a new war of words with Iran. Tehran has condemned a fresh round of US sanctions as “mentally retarded.”
Bilateral tensions between the two have spiked anew after Iran shot down a US drone last week in the Gulf. Relations have been tense since Washington blamed attacks on oil tankers just outside the Gulf in May and June on Iran, while Tehran has repeatedly said it had no role in the incidents.
Conflict between Washington and Tehran has stoked fears that shipments passing through the Strait of Hormuz — the world’s busiest oil supply route — could be disrupted.
Seeking to calm a nervous market, the head of national oil company Saudi Aramco said on Tuesday the company can meet the oil needs of customers using its spare capacity.