Corporate Eye

Walmart or Amazon – Let the Battle Begin

amazon_shipping_boxThe online retail brand battle is on!

  • Walmart wants to stop Amazon from growing.
  • Walmart wants more of the online retail market.
  • What Walmart wants, Walmart usually gets.

There is power behind the $405 billion in annual sales Walmart churns out.  Should Amazon (with $20 billion in sales last year) be worried?  Walmart hopes so.

Well, let’s look at this from a consumer perspective — mine.

Why do I shop at Amazon.com instead of Walmart.com?

  1. I can find almost any product I want on Amazon.com within seconds.  I can’t say the same thing for Walmart.com.
  2. I can get almost any product sold via Amazon.com shipped to me for free (as long as I spend $25 and select Super Saver shipping).  I can’t say the same thing for Walmart.com.
  3. The prices of most products on Amazon.com are competitive with other online stores.  I can say the same thing about Walmart.com.
  4. Amazon typically ships my purchases very quickly.  I can’t always say the same thing about Walmart.com.

So there you have it.  As the mother of 5-year old triplets, I do a lot of shopping online (don’t get me started on the hassles of trying to shop at a brick-and-mortar store with triplets).  I’m a fairly good representation of a power online shopper.  The first site I check is always Amazon.com.  Typically, I do some comparison shopping once I have my base price from Amazon.  Since there is always something I could get from Amazon’s wide selection, it’s never a problem for me to hit the $25 minimum for free Super Saver shipping.  The only time it’s a problem is if the product I want is offered through a third party retailer via the Amazon site which does not participate in the Super Saver shipping program.  With Amazon, I don’t have to visit coupon sites looking for free shipping coupons or discounts.  The price + free shipping is usually very competitive.  My shopping is done within seconds through Amazon and the price is usually similar to that offered by other sites which require coupons to be competitive.

Of course, that’s just my experience, but if you ask me, those are the factors Walmart needs to consider if they truly want to compete with Amazon.  Give me a huge selection with great prices.  Make your Web site easy to navigate.  Give me free shipping without the need to search for coupons.  Oh, and if you give me extra loyal customer discounts, I’ll start checking your site first instead of Amazon.

What do you think?  Will Amazon be the brand to continue to dominate online retail in the future or can Walmart catch up and become the brand to beat both offline and online?

I have to admit, it would be great for consumers if Walmart could become a viable competitor to Amazon.

Image: Flickr

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Susan Gunelius is the author of 10 marketing, social media, branding, copywriting, and technology books, and she is President & CEO of KeySplash Creative, Inc., a marketing communications company. She also owns Women on Business, an award-wining blog for business women. She is a featured columnist for Entrepreneur.com and Forbes.com, and her marketing-related articles have appeared on websites such as MSNBC.com, BusinessWeek.com, TodayShow.com, and more. She has over 20 years of experience in the marketing field having spent the first decade of her career directing marketing programs for some of the largest companies in the world, including divisions of AT&T and HSBC. Today, her clients include large and small companies around the world and household brands like Citigroup, Cox Communications, Intuit, and more. Susan is frequently interviewed about marketing and branding by television, radio, print, and online media organizations, and she speaks about these topics at events around the world. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google+.
 
Comments

The other positive thing about Amazon is that from time to time they send you $25
discount certificates, based evidenlty on previous purchases, to be used, 1 or more,
to reduce the price of your next purchase.

They add up.

Bob, It’s great to see you here on Corporate Eye. Yes, those discounts definitely do help! I definitely think Walmart needs to implement some type of reward or loyalty program to further incent consumers from shifting from Amazon to Walmart.com!

The only thing I’ve seen Walmart do to encourage more online shopping is their “site to store” option. You can order online and have it shipped for free to a brick and mortar store for pickup (provided you don’t need it quickly). While it’s not delivered to my doorstep, I’m willing to take the 5 minute trip to pick it up.

Amazon’s “free” delivery is not always the quickest and I have gotten frustrated when an in-stock item was delivered via three-legged pack mule. I wouldn’t have minded so much if it hadn’t felt like my paid item was being held hostage because I didn’t cough up money for shipping.

I strongly agree with your comment about the navigability of Walmart’s site. The search function is horrible and I’ve often been unable to find items online that I’ve seen on their shelves. Go figure.

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