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Walmart to pay 100% of workers’ tuition and book costs

Full-time and part-time staff are eligible to participate in the company’s Live Better U program

Walmart announced Tuesday that it will pay 100% of its U.S. workers’ college tuition and books over the next five years -- an investment valued at close to $1 billion.  

The action is an adjustment to Walmart’s Live Better U (LBU) education program. The retailer said it’s dropping the $1-per-day fee previously required for employees to participate in the program to help alleviate the burden of student loan debt. The fee will be eliminated starting August 16. 

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    Walmart plans to launch a fintech company

    The retailer is partnering with the company that founded the Robinhood trading platform

    Walmart has stuck another toe into the world of finance with the creation of a new fintech startup offering a range of financial services to its customers, many of whom have no banking relationship.

    It’s collaborating in the venture with Ribbit Capital, the company behind investment platform Robinhood and the consumer technology platform Credit Karma.

    Walmart says the venture will combine Walmart’s retail knowledge and scale with Ribbit’s fintech expertise to deliver tech-driven financial experiences tailored to Walmart’s customers and associates.

    “For years, millions of customers have put their trust in Walmart to not only save them money when they shop with us but help them manage their financial needs. And they’ve made it clear they want more from us in the financial services arena,” said John Furner, CEO of Walmart U.S. 

    Left unsaid is what the new venture will be called and when it will launch. Walmart did say that it would hold a majority stake in the new firm. Walmart also did not disclose what types of services the new company would offer. However, typical fintech companies might offer some or all of these services:

    • Banking.

    • Insurance.

    • Loans.

    • Personal finance.

    • Electronic payments.

    • Loans.

    • Venture capital.

    • Wealth Management.

    Revolutionary partner

    Ribbit Capital’s Robinhood has revolutionized online trading. A favorite among millennial investors, Robinhood grew quickly because it doesn’t charge commissions on transactions, a move that forced other online brokers to drop end their commissions as well.

    Walmart said its existing financial services remain in place. They include Walmart Credit Card, Walmart Money Card, check cashing, money transfers, and installment financing.

    This isn’t Walmart’s first foray into the world of technology. Last year it threw its hat in the ring as a potential buyer of TikTok when the Trump administration said it would force a sale by the company’s Chinese owner.

    Walmart has stuck another toe into the world of finance with the creation of a new fintech startup offering a range of financial services to its customers,...
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    Walmart to test technology that could enable 24/7 grocery delivery

    The first tests will be conducted in Arkansas using temperature-controlled smart boxes

    Walmart is looking to up its grocery delivery game by opening the possibility of consumers being able to get their orders at any time of the day or night. 

    In a blog post, the company says it will be conducting a pilot this spring that will allow customers in Arkansas to get fresh groceries delivered to their doors in a temperature-controlled smart box. The boxes are made by HomeValet, and they will reportedly be able to hold frozen, refrigerated, and pantry items.

    “Beginning this spring, participating customers in Bentonville, Arkansas, will be able to receive deliveries from their local Walmart directly into a temperature-controlled HomeValet-powered smart box placed outside their home. This gives customers the ability to receive secure, contactless deliveries with the peace of mind knowing their grocery items will stay fresh,” said Tom Ward, Walmart U.S.’ senior vice president of Customer Product.

    “The prospect of this technology is intriguing, both for customers and for Walmart’s last-mile delivery efforts. For customers, they don’t need to plan their day around when their grocery delivery will be made. For Walmart, it presents an opportunity to deliver items 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Ward said. 

    Ward stated that Walmart probably won’t be delivering groceries on a 24/7 basis anytime in the near future, but he admitted that the idea “certainly has a nice ring to it.”

    “If there’s one thing we know about our customers, it’s that they’re busier than ever. Our pilot with HomeValet is one of many solutions we’re testing that can make their days more manageable,” Ward said.

    Walmart is looking to up its grocery delivery game by opening the possibility of consumers being able to get their orders at any time of the day or night....
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    Walmart offers pickup option for returning online orders

    Customers can schedule a time for FedEx to pick up their return

    Walmart has announced that it’s giving consumers the option of returning orders without having to leave their home. In a blog post on Monday, the company said it’s teamed up with FedEx for a new service designed to make returning items a “hassle-free” experience. 

    “Now, customers can schedule a return through our new service, Carrier Pickup by FedEx, which is an incredibly convenient way to make that unwanted gift *magically* disappear,” Walmart said. “Even more magical, this new return option is not only super-easy but also free, and here to stay beyond the holiday season.” 

    To use Carrier Pickup by FedEx, customers can print out a shipping label from Walmart’s website, then schedule a time for FedEx to pick up the unwanted item. 

    The service is free for items shipped and sold via Walmart.com. The retailer noted that the service is available to “all customers where FedEx provides Small Parcel Pickup service.” Walmart customers can still choose to drop off their returns at FedEx locations instead of using the pickup service. 

    Changes to in-store return process 

    Walmart said it’s made several changes to its normal in-store returns process in order to keep customers safe and maintain social distancing during the pandemic. 

    Customers can start their return online via the Walmart app or website to cut down on time spent in line. At many stores, Walmart said it will open alternative return locations to help keep customers distanced from others in the store. 

    “Top that off with more good news for customers: No matter how customers choose to return the item, we’ve worked hard to speed up the time frame for which customers get their money back,” Walmart added. “For many online returns, refunds will be credited to customers’ payment account sometimes as soon as the next day, and same day for in-store returns.” 

    Walmart has announced that it’s giving consumers the option of returning orders without having to leave their home. In a blog post on Monday, the company s...
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    Walmart to give hourly workers another bonus this month

    Workers will get a Christmas Eve bonus in appreciation for their work during the pandemic

    Walmart has announced that it will give its hourly workers another pandemic-related bonus, this time on Christmas Eve. Full-time hourly employees will receive $300 on December 24, and part-time and temporary employees will get $150. 

    The retailer has given out three other bonuses to its employees since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to the fourth bonus, Walmart also announced that it will be extending its COVID-19 emergency leave policy to July of 2021. 

    Factoring in the fourth round of employee bonuses, Walmart will have paid a total of $2.8 billion in quarterly and special bonuses to its hourly employees this year. The company said it has done so in appreciation of workers who have helped stock shelves, ship online orders, transport goods, and serve customers during the pandemic. 

    “As we come to a close on this historic year, I’m filled with gratitude for how our associates have led through one of the most trying periods for our company and country,” said John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S.

    Cold weather surge in COVID-19 cases 

    The end-of-year bonuses are coming during a surge in coronavirus hospitalizations and deaths across the nation. Health officials have warned that hospitalization and death rates could increase further in connection with indoor gatherings during the colder months. 

    Grocery and food retail workers, who are often forced to be in relatively close proximity to customers, have risked their health by going to work. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged that these workers face unique risks. 

    The agency recommends that grocery store workers “encourage customers to use touchless payment options, when available.” Additionally, these workers are advised to “minimize handling cash, credit cards, reward cards, and mobile devices, where possible” and to wipe down counters between each customer at checkout. 

    Walmart has announced that it will give its hourly workers another pandemic-related bonus, this time on Christmas Eve. Full-time hourly employees will rece...
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    Walmart+ drops the $35 minimum order for free shipping

    Starting Friday, members get free next-day and two-day shipping no matter what they spend

    Walmart is dropping its $35 minimum order requirement for Walmart+ members to receive free shipping, a move that is seen as ratcheting up the competition with Amazon.

    Starting Friday, Walmart+ members can get free next-day and two-day delivery on all orders from the company’s website, regardless of how much they spend. Company officials hope the perk will attract more consumers to Walmart+.

    “Customers have been clear, they want this benefit,” said Janey Whiteside, chief customer officer at Walmart. “Being able to toss an item into your cart, regardless the total, and check out right away lets them knock little things off their to-do list in no time.”

    Deliveries from Walmart stores still carry a $35 minimum. Walmart+ members currently get unlimited free grocery deliveries, fuel discounts, and the ability to use Scan and Go in stores, which lets customers shop and check out with their phone.

    The move matches Amazon Prime’s policy of offering members free delivery regardless of the size of the order. While the two programs have different costs and benefits, Walmart has now leveled the playing field in one area that consumers appear to value.

    More places to use fuel discounts

    Walmart said it is also expanding the number of locations where members can use their fuel discounts. They will now include Sam’s Club fuel stations across the country. The discounts are already available at Walmart, Murphy USA, and Murphy Express fuel stations.

    Walmart+ launched earlier this year with an annual membership just under $100 a year, making it slightly less costly than Amazon Prime. The rollout included same-day grocery delivery and reserved delivery windows. 

    A report cited by CNBC put total Walmart+ membership in mid-November at 19 million U.S. households, based on a survey. The same report puts Amazon Prime membership at an estimated 126 million people.

    Walmart is dropping its $35 minimum order requirement for Walmart+ members to receive free shipping, a move that is seen as ratcheting up the competition w...
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    Walmart celebrates Thanksgiving with free meal giveaways

    Consumers have to connect their Walmart account with a web browser extension to get the freebie

    Did someone say free Thanksgiving meal? Yep... Walmart. The mega retailer has looped in Butterball, Campbell’s, Coca-Cola, and others to offer consumers everything they need for a Thanksgiving dinner -- from cranberry sauce to the turkey itself -- compliments of the brands involved. 

    Walmart locations nationwide are participating in this event through Thanksgiving Day, November 26.

    The freebies

    In total, there are nine gratis food products in the promotion, though some include caveats about specific sizes and other factors. Here are the details:

    • Butterball Turkey Breast Roast: Offer valid for 100 percent cash-back on all flavors of the 3 lb Butterball turkey roast, which includes a gravy packet. Also valid for $9.98 cash-back on Butterball whole turkeys.

    • McCormick Gravy: Offer valid for all 0.87 oz. McCormick gravy packet flavors.

    • Great Value Stuffing Mix: Offer valid for all 6 oz. Great Value Stuffing Mix flavors.

    • Idahoan Mashed Potatoes: Offer valid for all 8 oz. Idahoan Mashed Potato flavors.

    • Campbell’s Condensed Cream of Mushroom Soup: Offer valid on 10.5 oz. can only.

    • Great Value Cranberry Sauce: Offer valid for all canned 14 oz. cranberry sauce varieties.

    • Great Value Green Beans: Offer valid on Great Value Fine Green Beans, 12 oz. frozen bag.

    • French’s Crispy Fried Onions: Offer valid on French’s Original Crispy Fried Onions, 2.8 oz..

    • Coca-Cola: Offer valid on 2-liter bottles of Coca-Cola: Cherry Zero Sugar, Vanilla, Caffeine Free, Caffeine Free Zero Sugar, Original Taste, and Zero Sugar.

    A 12 oz. bag of green beans or a 3 pound turkey may not go very far for some families. To get enough for everyone, it might take multiple people using separate Walmart accounts connected to Ibotta to stretch “free” into a family-size windfall.

    “Free” takes some doing 

    In all fairness, while Walmart and its partners are throwing around the word “free,” it’s a slight misnomer because the promotion is really a “cash-back” one. 

    In reality, a consumer can’t just walk into a Walmart, load up their cart with the foods that are part of the promotion, and then check out without having to scan their credit card. To take advantage of the deal, a consumer has to complete two key steps:

    Once that’s done, the consumer simply logs in to their Walmart account. They’ll immediately find all nine free Thanksgiving items in their browser extension (and via the Ibotta phone app within an hour) in the form of cash-back for the entire purchase (approx. $20.27).

    Consumers are likely to see more “thanks” from major retailers and brands in the run-up to Thanksgiving. On Monday, Zoom announced that it was lifting its 40-minute time limit on the free version of its software so families could enjoy a longer virtual Thanksgiving together. BJ’s Wholesale Club also announced that it’s handing out free turkeys in advance of Thanksgiving.

    Did someone say free Thanksgiving meal? Yep... Walmart. The mega retailer has looped in Butterball, Campbell’s, Coca-Cola, and others to offer consumers ev...
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