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Walmart teases the launch of the Walmart + membership program as e-commerce gross sales surge through the pandemic

Customers shop at a Walmart store on May 19, 2020 in Chicago, Illinois.

Scott Olson | Getty Images

Walmart gave investors some hints of the upcoming membership program on Tuesday, saying it would expand its unlimited grocery delivery service with fast service and low prices.

For the past several months, investors and analysts have been watching and waiting for the launch of Walmart +. The big box retailer confirmed in late February that it is developing the subscription-based service that will compete with Amazon Prime with perks to increase sales and loyalty.

Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, admitted the service "caused a lot of buzz," and gave a little bit of the retailer's strategy in a call for earnings on Tuesday. Although he didn't say when it would launch, McMillon said the membership program will focus on the customer experience with speed, convenience, and low prices. For the retailer, this will strengthen relationships with buyers. This will help build customer loyalty, encourage bulk purchases and provide data on their preferences, he said.

McMillon said the service will highlight the company's mix of merchandise beyond groceries and the popularity of its roadside pickup and delivery. It will build on Walmart's unlimited grocery delivery membership service that has been tested since late last year.

"Since that launch, we've proven to ourselves that we can select and deliver a wide range of categories across the Supercenter – not just groceries and consumables, but a wide range of general merchandise," he said. "We believe that the breadth of the range and our ability to deliver quickly nationally, combined with a few other benefits for customers, will result in a compelling proposition."

U.S. ecommerce sales rose 97% in the second quarter of the fiscal year that ended July 31, as shoppers bought items ranging from fishing rods to televisions to groceries during the pandemic.

McMillon said there are a variety of options, from curb to delivery, to acknowledge that "the customer is ultimately responsible".

"We will have several ways to serve them and at that moment these families will choose how to shop," he said. "And sometimes they're in the store and sometimes they pick up and sometimes they deliver and a lot of them buy a membership and when they do, they'll benefit."

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