Retail giant Walmart is planning to unveil a subscription service in the US that could amount to a direct challenge to Amazon Prime, which has done so much to disrupt the retail sector since its launch in 2005.

According to Recode, which first reported the development after speaking to sources, Walmart has been working on the plan for the past 18 months and it is considered a top priority for Janey Whiteside, the company’s chief customer officer.

Called Walmart+, the membership program is expected to undergo public trials as early as March and to amount to a rebrand of Walmart’s existing Delivery Unlimited service, which offers unlimited, same-day grocery deliveries for an annual fee of $98.

That compares with an Amazon Prime membership cost of $119 per year that offers unlimited one-day delivery of more than ten million products, same-day grocery deliveries from Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh, as well as Amazon’s large catalogue of TV shows and movies.

However, according to Recode’s sources, Walmart executives are considering adding a range of perks to the new service, such as a feature that would allow customers to place their orders via text message or use the Scan & Go service that avoids the need to have to go through checkout.

Other benefits could involve perks that Amazon cannot replicate, such as discounts on prescription drugs or fuel at Walmart outlets. It is believed these could give Walmart an edge because Amazon does not own its own gas stations or brick-and-mortar pharmacies – although it does own the online PillPack pharmacy.

None of these are set in stone yet, but Recode’s sources said Walmart executives in charge of the initiative believe that testing different perks and learning from those tests will benefit both customers and the business in the long term.

That observation came close to being confirmed by a Walmart spokesperson, who told Business Insider that the company is exploring how to make use of innovations, such as the text-based ordering system developed by Jet Black, the experimental premium shopping service that Walmart shut down in February.

“We’ve learned a lot over the past two years, including how customers respond to the ability of ordering by text as well as the type of items they purchase through texting,” the spokesperson said.

Sourced from Recode, Business Insider; additional content by WARC staff