For many years, Walmart has led the pack when it comes to offering shoppers a vast range of products at extremely low prices. With over 4,750 stores around the United States, they’ve also remained unbeaten when it comes to convenience.
However, with the e-commerce boom over the past couple of decades, Amazon ended up overtaking Walmart as America’s most valuable company in 2015.
While Amazon may have had a head start in the e-commerce race, now accounting for roughly 40% of all online retail in the US, Walmart is certainly catching up. In fact, in the past few years, Walmart’s e-sales have grown over 200%, making it the third-largest online retailer behind Amazon and eBay.
But does a higher market share and value mean a better retail experience?
Below, we’ve taken a closer look at Amazon and Walmart’s product ranges, customer service, and value for money to determine which comes out on top.
While Walmart.com is home to an incredible 35 million products, Amazon boasts an insane 350 million items. However, it’s worth noting that the vast majority of Amazon’s product offering comes from nearly 200,000 independent sellers within the Amazon Marketplace. If you don’t factor these in, their number drops down to around 12 million items, just over a third as many as Walmart.
In terms of product categories, both Walmart and Amazon cover the same lines, including everything from clothing and household items, personal care and cosmetics, food and drink, electrical goods, books and games, DIY supplies, and auto products.
It’s also worth noting that both companies offer additional services. For Amazon, this includes features such as the Kindle ebook store or Prime TV. In Walmart’s case, they’re unique in the fact they allow you to manage prescriptions in their online pharmacy.
For some, Amazon’s unrivaled range puts it ahead of Walmart, and they may indeed be the better pick for some specialist and unique items. However, it’s important to bear in mind that allowing thousands of individual traders to sell on your platform comes with very mixed results. With Walmart, you can guarantee that every product and supplier has been properly vetted. Although Amazon does moderate their Marketplace, the quality and consistency of products and sellers vary wildly, and customers have to rely on the reviews of others before making a choice.
Deals & Value
Due to the massive number of sellers competing against each other on Amazon’s Marketplace, there’s no denying you’ll find cheap products in their store. Although, as mentioned above, this often means sacrificing quality. Often, these low-cost items come from overseas where testing standards may be much lower or even non-existent, leaving you out of pocket with a bogus or defective product. The best-case scenario is a refund, which can still be inconvenient. Amazon.com does have daily deals on items from its core inventory which can result in some significant savings, but whether there’s a deal on something you actually need when you need it, can be a matter of luck and timing.
On the other hand, Walmart has managed to turn this approach to deals on its head with its Everyday Low Price (EDLP) strategy. EDLP is an approach that’s at the center of Walmart’s operations and promises customers the same low prices all year round. While this means that some products may not be the cheapest at any given time, it means consumers can guarantee they’re always getting a great deal without having to shop around. That’s not to say you won’t still find special sale events with up to 75% on a wide range of great products.
Accessibility, Shipping & Returns
Both Walmart and Amazon offer plenty of shipping options at great value. Walmart offers standard shipping (3-4 day delivery), next-day delivery for qualifying zip codes and two-day delivery on millions of products for just $5.99, with free shipping on all orders over $35.
Meanwhile, Amazon offers free shipping on millions of items if you spend $25, but this doesn’t cover their entire range. You can also opt for free next-day delivery with Prime and no price limit, but at a cost 12.99 per month, it’s not the best option for everyone.
As with their product range and pricing, consistency comes into play once again. With Walmart, you always know how much you’re going to pay for shipping, but with Amazon, it can be a bit of a mixed bag. While plenty of items ship within a standard delivery time, products that come from overseas can take weeks to arrive depending on the seller and prices can vary significantly.
The same can be said when it comes to product returns. Walmart allows you to return your items within 90 days of purchase for free, whereas Amazon’s policy varies depending on the seller. While both companies allow you to return items by mail, it’s possible to return Walmart products in-store, which brings us on to our final point. Walmart has nearly 5000 physical locations across the United States – Amazon has just a handful. This means that when it comes to convenience and accessibility, Walmart beats Amazon hands down.
How do Walmart and Amazon compare when you require assistance? Both companies have award-winning customer service teams, and if you can’t find an answer to your query on their respective websites, you can reach out by live chat, email, or telephone.
Once again, Walmart’s customer service is generally more efficient due to the fact they don’t have to deal with 3rd party suppliers; however, Amazon support is better when it comes to availability. While you can reach a Walmart customer support agent between 7 am and 7.30 pm CST every day, Amazon has agents available 24/7.
Walmart and Amazon both offer customers a premium retail experience. When it comes to range, it’s true that Amazon does offer a much wider selection which can be preferential if you’re looking for a highly specific item. However, for day-to-day shopping that you can rely on, it really is hard to beat Walmart. Due to the majority of their services being managed in-house, they offer unparalleled consistency that you won’t find anywhere else.