On Tuesday, Walmart published a statement on its corporate blog that explained why and how it launched its new Express delivery program, whereby Walmart customers, for an additional fee of $10 on top of Walmart’s “typical delivery fees of $7.95 or $9.95,” can elect to have their e-commerce orders delivered to their doorsteps in under two hours.
Walmart first announced its Express program just under two weeks ago, and ever since the program has raised questions. For example, the program could have a deleterious impact on America’s poor, which is a concern that I outlined in a widely read article I authored immediately following the announcement.
Tuesday’s statement, however, does nothing to damper the importance of the questions being raised. In fact, it should only intensify the need for a more thorough examination. The statement is, frankly, tone deaf.
The statement offers nothing of substance. It’s vapid, and quite frankly should be viewed as an insult to the intelligence of anyone who reads it. If anything, as the thorough breakdown of the statement below will show, it further calls into question the motives behind the program and just how opportunistically Walmart is looking at the whole situation surrounding COVID-19. While express delivery programs in and of themselves are nothing new (see Amazon Prime Now), it is the timing of the announcement and its potential impact amid COVID-19 that should raise eyebrows.
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First, the date of the statement raises some big questions. I asked a Walmart spokesperson why Walmart felt compelled to come out with such a statement less than two weeks after its initial press release for the program, and I was told that it was because the service “became available in nearly 1,000 stores just this week.” But, if that were the motive, wouldn’t the press release have read something more along the lines of “Walmart expands rollout of Express delivery program?” Why the need instead to set up the tone of the headline as a defense or justification?