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Walmart's new shipping service beats Amazon

Fifty-dollar unlimited fee demonstrates Walmart's pledge to growing online biz

Walmart Stores will test a new unlimited shipping service for online shoppers this summer in the U.S. that will be priced below Amazon's US$99 per year Prime service.

Walmart, the world's largest retailer, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the shipping subscription service will cost customers US$50 a year. Products will arrive in three days or less.

Walmart offers a grocery delivery and pickup service in five American markets.

But the unlimited shipping program marks a substantial commitment and underscores how serious the retailer is about accelerating the growth of its online business, which has seen a slowdown.

Ravi Jariwala, a company spokesman, said the offering is in response to rising demand from customers wanting predictable and affordable shipping.

It's also part of Walmart’s overall strategy to test new ways to serve customers who are increasingly researching and buying on online.

Jariwala said the service will be available by invitation only for now and it will offer more than one million top-selling items, from toys to electronic gadgets. Walmart’s online site sells more than seven million products.

For now, he said the service would not offer features like free video and music streaming that Amazon provides.

He said that customer feedback will direct how the program will evolve.

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