Amazon has long been the king of e-commerce, but retail giants Walmart and Target have recently accelerated efforts to get a larger piece of the pie.
Last year, we published a report on Walmart vs. Amazon that found that Walmart was cheaper than Amazon after comparing the prices of 50 identical items. This year, we ran a similar analysis and found that Amazon is cheaper than Target, but once again is more expensive than Walmart.
While Amazon has long been considered the most convenient option for buying practically anything online, Walmart and Target are getting competitive. The latter two both offer free two-day shipping on orders of $35 and over without any membership required.
The former offers a Prime account, which gives access to Amazon’s video streaming site and many other freebies, but most importantly, gives users free shipping options. The service currently costs $12.99 per month or $119 per year.
LendEDU compared 50 nearly identical items from Amazon, Walmart, and Target to see what the pricing difference was. Here were the specifications:
- Items must be found on the respective sites (e.g. Amazon, Walmart, and Target).
- Items were separated into five categories:
- Home Goods
- Food & Beverage
- Technology & Entertainment
- Miscellaneous Items
Comparing Prices Found at Walmart & Target to Those at Amazon by Percent Difference
For this study, Amazon has been set as the baseline for comparisons. Any positive percentages mean that the respective store is that percentage more expensive than Amazon. The opposite applies for negative percentage values.
As seen, Walmart was 1.73% cheaper than Amazon if you were buying all 50 products at the same time, while Target was 1.24% more expensive than Amazon. However, Walmart was 5.50% more expensive per item on average than Amazon, while Target was 1.24% more expensive per item on average when compared to Amazon.
The only category where both Walmart and Target beat out Amazon on price was in the Food & Beverage group, by 4.61% and 7.30% respectively. The main section that makes Walmart cheaper in total was Technology & Entertainment, where it was 4.19% cheaper on almost $4,000 worth of goods.
Home Goods were classified as everyday products for use in the home, such as toothbrushes and laundry detergent.
Out of the eight items categorized under home goods, Target was 1.30% more expensive in total, while Walmart was 0.67% cheaper than Amazon. On a per item basis, Target purchases were 1.30% more expensive on average, while those bought at Walmart were cheaper by 0.01% on average.
When it comes to beating Amazon on price, both Target and Walmart did run away with one item: Mrs. Meyer’s Liquid Hand Soap Refill. It was cheaper by 17.67% at Target and by 18.49% at Walmart.
On the other end, Lysol Disinfecting Wipes were 16.61% more expensive at Target, and 5.29% more expensive at Walmart, making it an obvious purchase at Amazon.
Items in the Kitchen/Appliances section were classified as anything that would normally be found in a kitchen setting, like cookware, coffee makers, and microwaves.
Out of the eight items categorized as Kitchen/Appliances, Target was 1.17% more expensive in total, while Walmart was 9.30% more expensive in total than Amazon. Per item, Target was 1.16% more expensive on average, while Walmart’s items were 10.62% more expensive than Amazon.
Amazon ran away with this category, with items like the Char-Broil Classic 2 Burner Gas Grill being 7.24% more expensive at Target and 31.34% more expensive at Walmart. Both Target and Walmart did not beat out Amazon on any item. The best they did on any one item was matching the Amazon price, or a 0.00% difference.
Miscellaneous Items were classified as anything around a household that does not fall under one of the other categories. Examples included pens, sunscreens, and hedge shears.
Target was 4.39% more expensive in total, while Walmart was 4.99% more expensive in total compared to Amazon. Per item, Target was 4.72% more expensive on average, and Walmart was 15.46% more expensive than Amazon.
Walmart’s difference was made up in the Neutrogena Clear Face Lotion Sunscreen, with it being 115.89% more expensive than at Amazon.
Amazon beat out both stores in this category, and only Target came away with a win:
S’ip by S’well Vacuum Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle was 15.01% cheaper at Walmart.
Technology & Entertainment
Technology & Entertainment was classified as anything technology related, with entertainment that is technology falling under it. Examples included an Xbox One, a JBL speaker, and a GoPro.
Target was 1.03% more expensive in total, while Walmart was 4.19% cheaper in total than Amazon. Per item on average, Target was 1.42% more expensive, and Walmart was 1.95% more expensive than Amazon.
The reason why Walmart was cheaper in total but more expensive per item on average was mainly from two items:
- SanDisk 32GB Ultra USB 3.0 Flash Drive – Black, was 36.84% more expensive than Amazon.
- Logitech Corded Mouse M100, was 14.16% more expensive than Amazon.
Food & Beverage
Food & Beverage was classified as anything that is meant for human or animal consumption. Examples included Double Stuff Oreos, Purina Cat Food, and Lemon Lime Gatorade.
Target was 7.30% less expensive, while Walmart was 4.61% cheaper than Amazon. However, the per item on average percentage was 2.11% cheaper for Target, but 0.93% more expensive for Walmart.
This was mainly due to one item in particular for Walmart; Poland Spring 24-Count Water Bottles was 66.61% more expensive to buy at Walmart instead of Amazon.
Observations and Analysis
With Target only being 0.97% more expensive than Amazon and Walmart being 1.79% cheaper than Amazon, the differences between the traditional brick-and-mortar stores and the e-commerce giant have become smaller and smaller.
Traditional retailers realize that e-commerce is paramount to their continued success, so they are starting to become more competitive in online pricing.
This attitude is good for consumers, as it means prices on goods will only become lower and more competitive as time moves forward. Although companies will have to figure out if they can support the razor-thin margins e-commerce is often coupled with.
How To Save Money Shopping
Compare Prices at Different Websites
As a consumer, it is important to do your due diligence while making purchases through e-commerce sites. It takes very little time to copy and paste the item name into different sites to see if there is a lower price available. For larger purchases, such as a television, you may be able to save hundreds of dollars by just comparing e-commerce platforms.
Use Coupon Codes and Look for Deals
By using coupons and actively looking for deals, you may be able to bring down your total expenses by quite a bit. Remember, when looking at deals do not purchase something you wouldn’t have without the deal, as that indicates it is a want rather than a needed product. By actively pruning your budget and keeping an eye on your finances, it will help you save money in the long-term, while also improving your financial health.
Look for student-specific deals as well. Many sites, like Amazon, offer both discount memberships and discounts off regular pricing for students.
The data that was used in this report came exclusively from Amazon’s, Walmart’s, and Target’s websites. The 50 items that were compared were nearly identical in quantity, style, and model. Items were only compared if they were found on the respective company’s website and available for purchase via the respective website. The lowest available price was used on each site.
After the data was collected, we compared each respective company using Amazon as the baseline for all purchases. Any positive percentage meant that Amazon was cheaper by that percent, and any negative percentage meant that Amazon was more expensive by that percent.
Per item percentage differentials = ((Walmart’s or Target’s Item Price – Amazon’s Item Price) / Amazon’s Item Price) * 100
Total average percentage differentials = ((Walmart or Target’s Category Sum – Amazon’s Category Sum) / Amazon’s Category Sum) * 100
Average item percent difference = (Walmart or Target’s Sum of Percentage Differences)/(Amount of Items in Category)
It is important to note that the prices used here fluctuate on a daily basis and may not represent the current price, or if that item is being sold anymore. Additionally, this did not take into account any possible shipping costs from not having Amazon Prime or not being over the $35 minimum at Target or Walmart. Some items are only available through Amazon Pantry which is Prime exclusive; however, the comparable price for non-prime members is within an extremely small margin.
*Previously we reported that an item in the Miscellaneous categories, L’Oreal Paris True Match Lumi Glotion Highlighter, Fair, was $11.97 on Amazon. This was a mistake and its true price is $8.59. This post has been updated to reflect the price change and the mistakes were marked with an *.