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Walmart vs Amazon: A Comprehensive Comparison Guide

Amazon and Walmart are the two dominant players in e-commerce today.

Amazon holds nearly 40% of all online sales in the US, while Walmart is quickly gaining ground as the 2nd largest online retailer.

For brands and sellers, having a presence in at least one of these marketplaces is crucial for growth.

Amazon Still the Leader in E-Commerce

When it comes to US e-commerce market share, Amazon is still the undisputed leader.

Amazon captured 37.6% of America's online retail spending in 2023, according to eMarketer data. And Amazon accounts for nearly $2 of every $5 spent on e-commerce.

Amazon's net sales in the third quarter of 2023 reached $143.08 billion, up 13% from $127.10 billion in the previous year.

Walmart Finally Gaining Online Relevance

But Amazon faces a serious challenger from an unlikely rival: Walmart, the world's largest retailer.

Walmart has emerged as a serious rival to Amazon in the e-commerce space. The company has found its e-commerce footing and is now firmly established as America's #2 online marketplace.

As of October 31, 2023, Amazon generated $638.785 billion in online sales, up 6.44% from the previous year.

Walmart's overall share of US online sales increased from 5.4% in 2019 to 6.4% in 2023.

Amazon: More Fees But Access to Volume

Unlike Walmart, Amazon charges sellers a monthly subscription fee. Their “Individual” plan starts at $0.99 per month for up to 40 orders per month, while their “Pro” seller plan starts at $39.99 per month.

Amazon charges referral fees for product sales, ranging from 8-15% of the total sales price. Some extremely high volume categories, such as Amazon Devices, are subject to a 20% referral fee. Additionally, some media categories require a “variable closing fee” per item of approximately $1.80 per sale.

Walmart: Leaner Pay Structure But Lower Volumes

Unlike Amazon, Walmart doesn't charge monthly seller subscriptions or closing order fees.

Instead you just pay Walmart:

  • Referral fees on each sale: Prices vary between 6-20% depending on product category

  • WFS storage/processing fees if signed up for Fulfillment Services

This much! While Amazon charges sellers a variety of extra fees, Walmart keeps it simple with just referral fees.

Amazon: High Automation But Frequent Policy Changes

Amazon offers new sellers a seamless onboarding experience thanks to intense automation. Open a Professional seller account for $39.99 per month, connect bank/tax details and you're ready to list items. You don't have to wait for a long application or approval.

Creating a new list is also made easier with the "Bulk Upload" feature. Amazon also introduced the ability to "clone" existing listings to speed up new product launches.

Walmart: High Review But More Stability

All new Walmart sellers must submit a detailed application outlining:

  • Business verification documents (W9, EIN, business licenses)

  • Previous online sales history and experience

  • Product Catalog and supplier details

  • Ability to meet comprehensive performance metrics

Walmart thoroughly reviews each app, evaluating product quality, order accuracy potential, seller stability, and other attributes.

Many applications are rejected if there are deficiencies that would stand out in Walmart's priority categories.

Amazon: Cutthroat Competition But Powerful Pricing Tools

Simply put, the Buy Box competition on Amazon is extreme.

More than 2 million active sellers battle it out for the coveted "Add to Cart" button on every product page.

While pricing represents one of the main factors in achieving buy box status, it is not the only factor. According to SellerApp experts, the following factors (in order) play an important role in Buy Box dominance:

  • Fulfilled by Amazon (FBA) participation: FBA listings will outperform non-FBA bids at the same prices by roughly 80%

  • Total Price + Shipping: All other variables being the same, lower cost wins

  • Vendor Record: Your performance metrics regarding order defects, cancellations, and late shipments

  • Product Availability: In-stock offers beat in-stock offers when prices are the same

  • Seller Feedback Score: 500+ positive ratings increase odds

Still, competitive pricing remains highly effective, especially since individual sellers cannot control every variable other than pricing. Therefore, using repricing is an effective strategy to protect your Buy Box placement.

Walmart: Less Competition But Strict Policies

There are pros and cons to pricing at Walmart compared to Amazon.

The biggest positive? Significantly less vendor competition. Walmart Marketplace currently hosts approximately 150,000 sellers, compared to approximately 2.3 million sellers on Amazon.

This makes it easier to win the Buy Box, especially for diligent sellers who keep prices at the top.

Unlike Amazon, Walmart prohibits third-party repricing software that automatically adjusts bid pricing.

Vendor changes must be made manually once a day.

While repricing restrictions require more labor, they also curb the pricing volatility of hyper-aggressive bot repricers. But Walmart's marketplace operations team carefully monitors seller prices on all listings. They also maintain strict policies on pricing compliance:

  • Price Parity Rule: If a seller lists an item at a lower price on another website, the Walmart listing will be removed

  • Price Leadership Policy: If ANY competing seller lists the same item at Walmart or elsewhere for a much lower price, they will force you to match the same item or remove your listing

Amazon: Fulfilled According to Amazon (FBA) Rules

Given Amazon's Prime membership base of more than 150 million loyal subscribers, winning Buy Boxes essentially requires free two-day shipping.

The only way sellers can reliably deliver Prime orders (without the expensive Seller Fulfillment Prime qualification) is to use Fulfillment By Amazon.

In the FBA model, sellers ship their inventory in bulk to Amazon warehouses. When an order arrives, Amazon handles picking, packaging, shipping, and returns/exchanges without the seller's intervention.

FBA provides sellers with tremendous logistical convenience. However, it also brings significant disadvantages such as:

  • Long standard shipping times for moving inventory to FBA facilities

  • High long-term storage fees for slow-moving inventory

  • Sudden category access revocations or stricter requirements

Walmart: First-Party and Alternative Amazon Fulfillment Options Gain Pace

Like Amazon's marketplace, Walmart's Marketplace heavily caters to third-party sellers who handle their own shipping/shipping.

But considering the growing popularity of Amazon FBA and subscription revenues, Walmart recently introduced Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS)

Under WFS, approved sellers ship pallets of inventory to Walmart warehouses. When an order arrives, Walmart, just like Amazon, picks the orders in Walmart-branded boxes, packages them, and ships them to customers.

For products not managed under WFS, Walmart also offers special badges to Seller Fulfilled sellers if they meet Two-Day delivery times.

However, WFS is quite limited compared to FBA.

Fortunately, Walmart Marketplace has approved several alternative fulfillment partners that new sellers can leverage for Prime-like shipping without WFS, including ShipHero, ShipBob, ShipHype, Rakuten Super Logistics, Simpl Fulfillment, ShipMonk, Easyship, Shipwire.

Amazon: Custom Measurements for Sellers and Suppliers

Amazon Marketplace outlines three key metrics for sellers:

  • Defective Order Rate (ODR): Total defective orders/total orders within 60 days (target below 1%)

  • Pre-shipment Cancellation Rate: Total pre-shipment cancellations/total orders in 7 days (target below 2.5%)

  • Late Shipment Rate: Total late shipments/total shipments between 7 and 30 days (target below 4%)

“Defects” include negative seller feedback, AZ warranty claims, and chargebacks, all of which can reduce profitability.

After multiple violations, Amazon may suspend your seller account.

Walmart: Just Three Basic Standards

Unlike Amazon, Walmart Marketplace evaluates sellers based on only three numbers:

  • Order Defect Rate (ODR): Total defects/total orders in the last 90 days (target below 2%)

  • On-Time Shipment Rate: Total on-time shipments/total shipments (over 99% target)

  • Valid Follow Rate: Total valid follows/total posts (over 99% target)

Customer Service Expectations

Amazon has fundamentally shaped modern consumer expectations for shoppers, thanks in large part to the popularity of its Prime membership program.

Prime members (more than 150 million worldwide) enjoy benefits like free two-day shipping, video/music streaming, discounts, and other perks unheard of in online shopping just a decade ago.

As a result, today's Amazon customers expect and demand ultra-fast, free shipping with often hassle-free returns and exchanges. They also rely on Amazon's renowned customer support team, which is available 24/7 via chat or phone, to quickly address any issues. To meet these expectations, Amazon has poured billions of dollars into its supply chain and logistics capabilities.

Amazon holds its Marketplace sellers to similarly high standards to meet its customer service experience.

Too often, sellers who fall short face account suspension for even minor infractions.

Walmart shoppers, however, often view customer service differently, given the company's longstanding traditional retail traditions.

Walking around retail floors and talking to store employees frames perceptions of service in a more traditional way: Price is the most important consideration, questions are answered functionally, and complex issues are escalated to managers. Wait times are more common.

Shipping times may take longer, returns may not be immediately refunded, and support may require more patience.

As long as pricing remains extremely competitive (the core Walmart ethos), there will be less friction in customer service.


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