The same-day delivery wars just got a lot more interesting as Walmart enters the fray.
Walmart is testing same-day delivery in Philadelphia, Northern Virginia, and Minneapolis, and will expand the program to San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., this month or early next month, the Associated Press reports.
The program, officially called Walmart To Go, covers roughly 5,000 items, including televisions, toys, and tablets, and costs $10 regardless of order size. There's no minimum purchase necessary at the moment, but a $45 minimum will apply in San Francisco and San Jose. When placing an order, shoppers pick a time that's most convenient for their delivery.
Walmart isn't the first retailer to experiment with same-day delivery. Amazon, arguably Walmart's biggest rival, already offers same-day delivery in 10 major U.S. cities, though cut-off times for orders vary by city, and are never later than noon local time. Amazon's program costs $8.99 per shipment (or $3.99 for Amazon Prime members), plus $0.99 per item.
eBay is also testing its own same-day delivery service, called eBay Now. The service, which is only available in San Francisco for now, costs $5 per delivery, with a $25 minimum per order. Products come from retail partners such as Target, Macy's and Best Buy.
As I've written before, the challenge for these services will be to expand beyond a handful of big cities, where the population is dense enough to allow for lots of deliveries in a small area. Walmart has the best chance of making this work because of its existing store presence. The retailer doesn't have to worry about adding more distribution centers, as Amazon would, or gathering items from disparate retail partners, as eBay does.
Though same-day delivery is still a new concept, competition is starting to heat up. At the very least, Walmart To Go will put pressure on other retailers to build out their own programs.