When it comes to online shopping, certain marketplaces have raised the bar on the online experience, forcing others to step up to the same standards – or risk being left behind. Amazon, for example, the king of online marketplaces, has revolutionized online shopping and shipping and has turned online shopping into a craze most thought impossible until recent years.
Of course with this new technology rival companies have streamlined their processes to meet the new standard. One store with a reputation for simple, all-in-one-place shopping (you guessed it, Walmart!) has perhaps even surpassed Amazon in its customer satisfaction. With such mixed reviews on the internet concerning the superiority between the two, I decided to test each for myself. I’m evaluating the products available, the actual browsing/shopping experience, and shipping methods to decide once and for all which is better: Amazon or Walmart.com?
Since its foundation in 1995 as a modest platform devoted solely to the sell of books online, Amazon has grown to include an online kingdom with every item one could possibly search for. Their shopping experience is standard, albeit streamlined to offer a seamless interface across platforms – for the most part. Their website and apps are all well-built to handle vast amounts of users and products, but let’s take a moment to touch on what isn’t 100% satisfactory about Amazon (because with Amazon it’s much simpler to discuss what’s wrong than what’s right, because almost everything about shopping with them is excellent).
In order to reap all the benefits of Amazon, a Prime membership is required. At what seems to be a steep price of $99, Prime members receive free two-day shipping on about 80 percent of products on the marketplace, along with a free TV streaming and music streaming service. If you don’t do a lot of shopping online or if you prefer select retailers who don’t sell on Amazon, you won’t benefit from this. You’d need to receive free shipping on about 20 purchases to benefit on the bottom-line from the Prime membership. Also, their TV streaming is much more limited than competitors, and their music streaming requires a paid upgrade to access the entire library.
But to touch on the actual shopping and browsing part of my test, it’s important to note that not all items which are Prime eligible offer two-day shipping, and the fine-print on these items is easy to miss. So if you’re counting on two-day shipping, be extra careful to remember this fact when confirming your order. Some items will even say “free two day shipping”, which could lead one to expect a product in two days, when in reality the timeframe is in reference to the actual timeline once shipped (select items can take up to one month to process and ship).
When I placed my order for the sake of this review, I failed to take a moment to verify the estimated ship-date and an item I was counting on arriving in two days took almost three weeks to receive. In addition, Amazon is unique in the fact that many of its products come from third-party vendors who have the freedom to falsely advertise and price-hike so they can offer steep “discounts”, which can be quite a tricky tactic for their customers to spot. So make sure there are reviews on the product you’re considering, even if it’s made by a brand you think you trust. Some third-party vendors have been known to sell counterfeit or used items, sold as new.
I won’t take the time to review the actual products I purchased, because while Amazon fulfilled my order each brand is responsible for its own quality.
Everyone knows about Walmart’s many, many brick and mortar locations. Every town, city, and state has a Walmart, and they carry every item a household could need for survival. Public opinion of Walmart, however, is quite tumultuous, which is probably one of the factors that allowed for the rise of other marketplaces like Amazon in the first place. Some people just don’t like going to Walmart because of the crowds and the atmosphere, and some refuse to go for moral reasons. In an attempt to win these people back, Walmart.com has upped the ante on its online experience.
One of the worst things about shopping at Walmart is that if you love high-end brands, you’re out of luck there. Walmart is known for being cheap, almost too cheap to believe, but they’ve attempted to rectify this in their online shopping marketplace by offering luxury and high end makeup, technology, and even food brands not found in Walmart stores. They’ve also risen to the challenge set by Amazon by offering free two day shipping on almost everything – without a paid membership.
Walmart.com’s interface is admittedly not as user-friendly as Amazon’s, which is understandable considering the fact that most of Walmart’s business is brick and mortar rather than online, but it would be nice to have better search options and categories to choose from – since there are so many hundreds of thousands of products to wade through on the website. They do, however, offer steep discounts on many name-brand products, and you can trust that items are sent directly from brands to Walmart, and then onto you. Unlike at Amazon, you can trust that if you know a brand’s product you’ll receive the genuine item when you order from Walmart every single time.
My products arrived just short of 48 hours after ordering, which honestly astounded me. I’ve used Amazon Prime for years now and never expected anything else to measure up to the quick shipping I usually receive from Amazon, but Walmart did it. And without a paid membership.
I don’t know that I can objectively say the experience of either marketplace is better than the other, because what’s best for you will depend on your unique shopping needs and requirements. If you do a lot of online shopping and want to avoid shipping costs, you’ll more than pay for the Amazon Prime membership within just a few months just through the money you’ll save on shipping, and you’ll have access to many things that just aren’t available through Walmart. Amazon does have almost everything you could possibly want to order, and their many online affiliates and influencers make finding links to specific products online a breeze.
Bloggers, social media personalities, and other websites use Amazon affiliate links to send you directly to a trusted product. But if you don’t shop online enough to benefit from Prime’s paid membership, you’ll likely find what you’re looking (or something similar) with free two-day shipping from Walmart.