Retail giant Walmart (NYSE:WMT) continues to branch out into new markets with its latest announced offerings, which include selling pet insurance for customers' cats and dogs and several other services related to people's animal companions. According to the company's announcement, these services will fall under the umbrella of the Walmart Pet Care business segment.
Melody Richard, merchandising vice president for Walmart's pets segment, noted the impetus for pet services expansion comes from the coronavirus, saying adoption rates have risen "as a result of the pandemic." According to the company, 98% of America's pets are still uninsured; Walmart said it provides an affordable coverage option.
Walmart is also launching pet-sitting and dog-walking services through Rover. Pet boarding and drop-in visits are also available in the new suite of services.
In response to sharply increased demand for many different kinds of services while the COVID-19 virus spread across the United States and the world, Walmart has added a plethora of new programs during 2020. Two days ago it announced a partnership that will see self-driving electric taxis delivering purchases in an Arizona test run in April 2021, while earlier initiatives have included everything from drone deliveries to selling health insurance.
According to some analysts, Walmart and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) are duking it out for the No. 1 retail position in the economy. Amazon has some key advantages in e-commerce and third-party sellers, while Walmart+ encroaches on Amazon's subscription segment. The outcome of this jockeying remains uncertain, but Walmart's expanded services such as Walmart Pet Care will likely make it more flexible and responsive to ongoing challenges.