[Walmart Corporate from Bentonville, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons]

Walmart Makes Huge Splash In Unexpected Space

In an effort to compete with Amazon, Walmart has made a deal with veterinary telehealth provider Pawp to grant Walmart+ user a membership. 

Subscribers to the retail giant’s free shipping service “can use Pawp’s services for a year starting Tuesday, the retailer said, as it looks to tap growing demand for pet telehealth from inflation-hit customers looking for cheaper alternatives, according to Reuters.

The benefit joins other new perks that Walmart has added to its Walmart+ service, including discounts on gas and streaming from Paramount. 

CNBC reports that Walmart’s foray into veterinary telehealth comes as the company looks to deepen loyalty with shoppers, attract and hold on to higher-income customers and better compete with Amazon

 by making its subscription service more valuable with the addition of perks.

Walmart+ costs $98 annually, or $12.95 a month. Similar to Amazon Prime, the Walmart service gives members access to unlimited free deliveries and a range of other benefits, such as free access to Paramount+ and discounts at the gas pump.

Amazon Prime, which costs $139 annually or $14.99 monthly, offers its own partnerships, as members currently get free access to GrubHub+ for a year, along with other perks such as photo storage and discounts on prescriptions. By adding Pawp to its subscription, Walmart hopes to keep its membership service competitive with Amazon Prime.

“It’s undeniable that over the past decade, we started thinking and looking at pets as part of the family,” Pawp’s CEO Marc Atiyeh told CNBC. ”[Walmart has] a very strong thesis around the pet category and yes, they want to be a big player in pet care and pet health in general, and Pawp really allows them to leapfrog the competition and do something that none of the other players have done.” 

Forbes noted, “Traditional pet-only retailers such as Chewy and Petco have already been investing in pet-health care to better compete with big-box stores. It will be interesting to see whether they can make a higher profit over time.

There has been concern that a virtual examination does not necessarily detect all illnesses. Veterinarians told CNBC about the difficulties to asses health concerns and there is no substitute for a physical examination. However, others have argued that pet telehealth helps bridge the access for care as pet owners contend with a nationwide vetinary shortage especially in rural America.” 

Many states prohibit veterinarians from diagnosing conditions or prescribing medicines over the internet without initially treating the animal in person. However, the process has gained steam, especially following the pandemic when states lifted restrictions. 

[Read More: Netflix Cracks Down On Password Sharing]