Walmart has launched a new service that will deliver items to customers in less than two hours amid surging demand for home delivery while millions of Americans are under stay-at-home orders due to the coronavirus.
The company announced Thursday its Express Delivery service will cost $10 in addition to the regular charge for delivery of $7.95 to $9.95, or just a $10 flat fee for members of Walmart's Delivery Unlimited service, which costs $12.95 a month or $98 annually.
Express Delivery will be available for 160,000 items like groceries, toys and electronics. The company said it has been testing the service in 100 stores since mid-April and will expand to nearly 1,000 stores in May and then nearly 2,000 locations "in the following weeks."
"We know our customers’ lives have changed during this pandemic, and so has the way they shop,” Walmart chief customer officer Janey Whiteside said in the news release. “We also know when we come out of this, customers will be busier than ever, and sometimes that will call for needing supplies in a hurry. COVID-19 has prompted us to launch Express Delivery even faster so that we’re here for our customers today and in the future."
Customers can enter their ZIP code on the Walmart website or on the Walmart app to see if the service is available in their area. During the checkout process online or on the app, customers can select the Express Delivery option, which only applies to orders of at least $30 to be eligible for delivery.
Walmart has 74,000 personal shoppers who retrieve the items for home delivery.
The new service becomes a competitor with Amazon's Prime Now, which launched in 2014 and offers two-hour delivery for Amazon Prime members in select U.S. markets. Amazon also added same-day delivery from Whole Foods in 2018 for Amazon Prime members.
Demand for home grocery delivery has surged during the pandemic to the point that Amazon announced last month it was prioritizing existing customers and putting any new customers on a waiting list due to a lack of available delivery slots. Major delivery services like Amazon, Walmart and Instacart have all announced they are hiring thousands of new employees to meet demand.