Amazon vs. Walmart: What to Know Before Shopping Online
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Can't decide whether to shop at Amazon or Walmart? We compare membership services, grocery delivery and their prices to help you decide.
When it comes to finding the absolutely best deal on anything, from name-brand appliances to obscure super-cool tools, two retail giants are competing for space in your shopping cart. Call it 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 differ in significant ways. Before you reach for your credit card, check out the reasons you should consider each one’s perks.
Walmart+ vs. Amazon Prime: Which Costs More?
Walmart+ membership costs $98 for a one-year commitment, or $12.95 a month if you prefer to be billed monthly. You’ll save $57.40 by paying for the full year up front. Amazon Prime is slightly more expensive at $119 a year or $12.99 per month.
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 runs 30 days. If you’re a college student or you receive government assistance, you qualify for 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.
Who Offers Lower Prices? Walmart or Amazon?
Pricing is competitive between Walmart and Amazon. But when it comes to the lowest prices and best everyday value, Walmart wins.
In 2018, LendEDU compared 50 identical products across categories such as home goods, technology/entertainment, kitchen/appliances and miscellaneous items. They found Amazon was 10.37 percent 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 research. And definitely shop Amazon Prime Day and Walmart’s Big Save Event. The sale merchandise on both 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 an adjustable laptop desk, Brita replacement filters and a robot vacuum cleaner with a few clicks? You can get them all on Amazon, and that’s just 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 1,000 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.
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 shows “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 retail units across the country. To compare, Amazon has 75 fulfillment centers (though it plans on opening 33 more this year) and 487 Whole Foods stores in the U.S.
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 five cents per gallon at nearly 2,000 Walmart, Murphy USA and Murphy Express gas stations.
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. 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 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 percent 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. If not, there’s a $4.99 delivery fee. Don’t miss these Amazon hacks to save money while shopping online.
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.
Plus, check out the 15 services you didn’t know you could get at Walmart.
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, contact Walmart.com Customer Care before placing your order. The products must be in stock and identical in size, model, quantity, brand and color. This is an especially good strategy 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.
Both retailers offer affordable shopping memberships that pay for themselves on saved delivery and shipping costs, if 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.
Do You Need a Subscription?
Maybe. You can take advantage of many Amazon Prime and Walmart+ delivery services without subscribing. Walmart customers who aren’t Plus members 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 Amazon or Walmart? It depends! It’s hard to beat Walmart’s rock-bottom prices and fast grocery delivery schedule. But Amazon also offers lots of savings and products, and 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 the holidays. Happy shopping!
Up next, have you discovered Amazon’s Bargain Finds section yet? It’s filled with products and materials to help get the job done, most priced below $15.