Amazon vs. Walmart: What to Know Before Shopping Online
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Can't decide between shopping at Amazon or Walmart? We compare membership services, grocery delivery and their prices (and sales!) to help you decide.
via amazon.com, via walmart.com
When it comes to finding the absolute best deal on anything, from name-brand appliances to an obscure ingredient for that summer salad recipe you want to test out before a big barbecue, two retail giants are competing for space in your shopping cart: Amazon vs. Walmart.
For members, Amazon Prime and Walmart+ both offer additional options for savings on shipping, grocery shopping—even gas and e-books. Though the retailers have tons in common, their shopping offerings and grocery services are actually pretty different. Not to mention, each has its own mega sales event during the year to put on your calendar.
Amazon Prime Day will be held June 21 and 22, 2021, offering a ton of deals for Prime members in every category from home and kitchen to tech and beauty. Walmart Prime Day, also known as the Deals for Days event, is Walmart’s answer to Amazon Prime Day. Walmart’s competitor sale will be held June 20 through June 23, 2021, with plenty of deals in the same categories. And rumor has it, some prices through Walmart may even get you a better deal.
Before you reach for your credit card, check out all the reasons you should consider each one’s perks. Ready, set, shop!
Walmart+ vs. Amazon Prime: Which Costs More?
A Walmart+ membership costs $98 for a one-year commitment, or $12.95 a month if you want the option to be billed monthly. You’ll save $57.40 by making the yearly commitment. You can buy a lot of groceries with $57—just saying! At $119 a year or $12.99 per month, Amazon Prime is slightly more expensive than a Walmart+ subscription. An additional $21, to be precise.
But some good news? Both Walmart+ and Amazon Prime offer free membership trials, so you can test both services before you commit. The Walmart+ trial lasts 15 days, while Amazon Prime lasts a full 30. If you’re a college student or you receive government assistance, you can get a discounted Amazon Prime membership. Just remember to cancel your trials if you don’t plan on continuing with either service! No one likes a surprise charge on their credit card bill.
Amazon Prime Day Sale Vs. Walmart Prime Day Deals for Days
Celebrating its sixth year in 2021, Prime Day is expected to offer deals at all-time lows. Especially since last year’s sale was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s sale on June 21 and 22 is bound to be good! But remember, it’s only accessible for those who have an Amazon Prime membership. Once you’re signed up, all of the sales across categories such as home and kitchen, smart home, tech and beauty will be at your fingertips. Along with discounts on Amazon services such as Music Unlimited, Audible and Kindle Unlimited.
To stay on par with Amazon, Walmart will hold its Walmart Prime Day competitor sale, Deals for Days, June 20 to 23. It’s a longer sale than Amazon’s. And the best part? There’s no membership required, and you can even choose in-store pickup on select items. Deals across all categories are accessible for any shopper, but those with a Walmart+ membership will enjoy options for same-day delivery, along with next-day and two-day shipping.
Who Offers Lower Prices? Walmart or Amazon?
As for the lowest prices and everyday value, pricing is competitive between Walmart and Amazon. But Walmart wins. In 2018, LendEDU compared 50 identical products across a variety of categories such as home goods, technology and entertainment, kitchen/appliances and miscellaneous items. They found that if a customer was to purchase identical items from both retailers, Amazon was 10.37% more expensive than Walmart.
Still, if you’re shopping for a big-ticket item like a refrigerator or TV, it’s best to do your own research on pricing between the retailers. And don’t sleep on shopping Amazon Prime Day and Walmart’s Deals for Days event. The sale merch tends to go fast!
How Does Walmart+ Compare to Amazon Prime?
Amazon’s motto is “From A to Z”—and it’s true. The online retailer sells almost everything, with more than 12 million products for sale. Want to order handmade calming bath bombs, Brita replacement filters and a citrus juicer with a few clicks? You can get them all on Amazon, and it’s so convenient. Anyone can shop on Amazon, but a Prime membership also gets you:
- Free two-day shipping with no purchase minimum on millions of items, including Handmade Goods (Amazon’s answer to Etsy.com).
- Same-day or two-hour shipping in select ZIP codes and with a $35 purchase minimum.
- Two-hour delivery on groceries, including quality fresh food and produce in select cities.
- Access to Amazon’s streaming library of movies, games and shows—including Amazon originals.
- Prime Reading gives you unlimited access to more than a thousand eBooks, magazines and comics.
- Sales and deals at Whole Foods Market (in stores and via Amazon Pantry).
- Not in a hurry? Choose free no-rush delivery and earn gift cards toward future purchases.
- Prime Wardrobe lets you try on clothes in your home before you commit to purchasing them.
- You’ll have access to Amazon Prime Day sales, but remember, it’s for Prime members only.
If you do all or most of your shopping online and like the (almost) instant gratification of two-hour delivery, then Amazon Prime is right for you. Whole Foods Market fans and digital streaming addicts should also consider signing up for a membership. You can finally catch up on the award-winning “Fleabag” and “Transparent.”
Walmart+ is trying to beat Amazon when it comes to shopping in an actual grocery aisle. Walmart has the benefit of being a huge chain, with a network of more than 5,000 physical retail units across the country. To compare, Amazon has more than 100 fulfillment centers in the U.S. (with more opening this year) and 500-plus Whole Foods stores in North America.
With so many retail locations, Walmart gets goods to more customers faster. With delivery coming directly from Walmart stores to customers’ homes, food should stay fresher overall. Anyone can shop at Walmart and Walmart.com, but a Walmart+ membership also gets you:
- Unlimited free delivery on a massive selection of groceries (fresh foods, not just pantry items), toys, tech, beauty, household essentials and cleaning products.
- More than 160,000 items can be delivered as soon as same-day.
- One-hour delivery windows are available if you need something ASAP.
- Members can save up to 5 cents per gallon at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas stations.
- Walmart always hosts a competitor sale at the same time as Amazon, and it’s free for everyone whether you’re a Walmart+ member or not.
Walmart+ also makes in-person shopping contact-free by granting members access to “Scan & Go” technology via an app. This lets customers scan and pay for items directly with their smartphone while shopping in stores. Say goodbye to standing in a checkout line! (This might be priceless if you’re shopping with toddlers.) If you like a combination of shopping in Walmart stores and online, plus you’re looking for deals on fast and fresh grocery delivery, it’s hard to go wrong with Walmart+.
Grocery Shopping on Walmart+ and Amazon Prime
It was huge news when Amazon acquired Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion in 2017. Some prices dropped dramatically for all shoppers, but Prime members are the real winners of the acquisition. With a Prime membership and an app, shoppers get a ton of grocery and beauty deals through the organic grocer.
In store, Prime members get weekly deals and an extra 10% off items with yellow sale signs. Prime Members in select ZIP codes (usually big cities) get free delivery of Whole Foods 365 Everyday Value items, plus meats, produce and pantry items.
Prime members in certain areas get free grocery delivery through Amazon Fresh, which fulfills orders through Amazon warehouses instead of Whole Foods Markets. Whole Foods and Amazon Fresh don’t have a grocery delivery minimum, unless you want two-hour delivery, in which case your order will need to be at least $35 (honestly, not that hard to do at Whole Foods), or you’ll have to pay a $4.99 delivery fee.
Over at Walmart+, the grocery deals are way more substantial. Walmart grocery prices are typically a lot lower than those at Whole Foods Market, and Walmart has worked to expand its organic and local produce and food items over the years. Adding household essentials like diapers, cleaning products and pet food is simple—and Walmart offers more brands than Whole Foods.
Walmart doesn’t specify how your proximity to a store will impact delivery time, but it’s safe to assume that the closer you are, the more likely you can take advantage of the same-day delivery offering.
Of course, busy holiday and weekend slots fill up fast, so it’s smart to schedule grocery delivery ahead of time if you really want the most coveted time slots at either retailer.
Does Walmart Price Match Amazon Items?
Yep! With some restrictions, Walmart will honor a price match if you find a lower price at other online or big box stores, including Amazon, Sears.com and Target.com. To get the price match, you must contact Walmart.com Customer Care before placing your order, and the products must be in stock and identical in size, model, quantity, brand and color. This is especially a good approach during big sale events like Prime Day and Cyber Monday. Shopping strategy definitely pays off!
What About Walmart’s Delivery Unlimited Subscription Program?
Walmart phased out its previous Delivery Unlimited subscription program, which offered unlimited free deliveries for a flat yearly or monthly fee. If you’re a current Delivery Unlimited subscriber, there’s no need to do anything to change your status. You automatically became a Walmart+ member on September 15, 2020.
The Bottom Line on Shopping on Amazon vs. Walmart
Both retailers offer affordable shopping memberships that pay for themselves on saved delivery and shipping costs if—and this is where you need to be honest about your shopping habits—you actually use them. City dwellers will appreciate Amazon’s two-hour and same-day delivery windows, while rural and suburban folks may want to go for Walmart’s larger reach. For affordable grocery shopping and fresh grocery delivery, Walmart wins. For a larger inventory of items (including handmade artisanal goods), and a plethora of streaming services and Whole Foods Market deals, Amazon is the retailer for you. As for the annual sales? It all depends on what’s on your shopping list.
Do You Need a Subscription?
It’s also worth mentioning that you can take advantage of many of the Amazon Prime and Walmart+ delivery services without subscribing. Walmart customers who aren’t Plus members currently get free two-day deliveries for millions of items on orders of $35 or more. Depending on where they live, they can sometimes get same-day delivery, too. Amazon customers who aren’t Prime members can usually get free standard shipping on orders of $25 or more. Another way to save? Prime members can share certain benefits with another adult in their household, as long as the accounts and payment options are linked.
So, should you shop on Amazon or Walmart? The sort of fuzzy answer: it depends! It’s hard to beat Walmart’s rock-bottom prices and fast grocery delivery schedule. But Amazon also offers great savings and a lot of products, and it makes online shopping easy. We recommend starting with a free trial of Amazon Prime and Walmart+ and clicking around on the items you know you buy regularly or have had your eye on for a while. Happy shopping!