Walmart vs. Amazon: Which has better prices, shipping, and customer service?
Consumer Intelligence Research Partners estimate that more than 100 million people in the U.S. subscribe to Amazon Prime, so most people are familiar with Amazon’s subscription service that gives you a ton of features like video content, music, books, and more for a monthly ($13) or annual fee ($119). Prime also affords subscribers free two-day shipping on eligible items, and people who live in eligible zip codes can get free one-day shipping, or even free same-day shipping.
Walmart offers a few different free shipping options, however, and you don’t have to pay any subscription fee at all. In select cities, the retailer offers free next-day shipping on qualifying orders over $35. Even if next-day shipping isn’t available in your area, you can get two-day shipping on orders over $35 regardless to where you live. Marketplace items, and certain other items are separate, and don’t count in the $35 total. For non-marketplace items that aren’t marked “free 2-day shipping,” you can usually get free 3-5 day shipping. For marketplace items, you may have to pay a separate fee for shipping though.
GROCERY AND FOOD
Amazon offers a few different food services including Prime Now, Amazon Fresh, and Prime Pantry. Prime Now delivers groceries, household items, and restaurant foods to Prime members in select cities. Amazon Fresh is an extra subscription ($14.99/month in addition to Prime) that lets you have groceries delivered to you. The two services — Amazon Fresh and Prime Now — are set to be merging. Prime Pantry is another separate paid service where you fill up a box with food items and have them shipped to your home. Most of Amazon’s food options have an added cost outside of your regular Prime membership, whether that cost be extra shipping costs or delivery fees, extra subscription fees, both a subscription cost and a delivery or shipping fee, or the option to choose between an extra subscription fee or an extra shipping cost each time you use the service.
Walmart, on the other hand, offers a grocery pickup service that’s entirely free. There are no subscription costs whatsoever. They also offer a delivery service for a small fee (usually under $10 per delivery, regardless of the amount of groceries you order). Like Amazon, Walmart’s delivery service is only available in select cities. Walmart customers can also order a wide variety of food and household items on the Walmart website and receive free 2-day delivery provided their order exceeds $35. Walmart’s digital food sales grew 53% year over year, compared to just 8% at Amazon, according to eMarketer.
In 2018, LendEDU conducted an analysis where they compared 50 identical products across a variety different categories — home goods, technology and entertainment, food and beverage, kitchen and appliances, and others. They found that Amazon was 10.37% more expensive than Walmart if a customer was to purchase the identical items from both retailers.
Amazon offers discounts and incentives, like coupons, and a variety of discounts for Prime members. However, Walmart has a slight edge over Amazon, providing a variety of rollback discounts, clearance items, incentives for customers for picking up their items in-store, as well as free shipping without a subscription fee.
Walmart has a huge selection of items, and the selection has only widened with the addition of the online marketplace. The online retailer is no longer the budget buffet of items it once was. You can order items from brands like Nike or even Gucci, as well as the latest tech gadgets or fashion. According to Marketplace Pulse, Walmart online has roughly 43 million products as of late 2018.
While Walmart has a wide selection, Amazon has just about everything your heart could desire — virtually every size, color, shape, and brand.
Walmart’s online marketplace is still in its infancy. Although Walmart.com launched almost two decades ago, it wasn’t until the company acquired Jet.com a few short years ago that it became a real contender in the online shopping arena.
Amazon’s third-party marketplace, however, is extremely well-established, and Amazon reports that 50% of its sales come from its third-party selection.
Walmart typically allows customers to return items in the store or by mail within 90-days of purchase. Certain items, like electronics, have a smaller return window (15 to 30 days depending on the item). If you buy an item from a Walmart marketplace seller, things get a bit tricky though. The seller can set their own return policy, as long as it meets Walmart’s minimum standards (i.e. the seller is allowed to charge a maximum restocking fee of 20%, and a return shipping fee).
Amazon and most of the sellers on Amazon allow you return items within 30 days of shipment. Because Amazon has so many Marketplace sellers, most of them adhere to Amazon’s return policies. If not, Amazon third-party sellers must provide a return address within the United States, provide a prepaid return label, or offer a full refund without requesting the item be returned so the customer is not left paying a huge shipping bill. Amazon also has an A-to-Z guarantee to protect customers from unfair return policies. Amazon even has “try before you buy” services like Prime Wardrobe, so you can find out if a clothing item is the right fit and style before you decide to keep it.
Depending on that you like, it can be a tough choice. However in my opinion, when it comes to branding, Walmart is still the ultimate winner. It gives us a sense of belonging and a giant fighting Amazon. Let’s give Walmart a chance see how far it can go.