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- Amazon has given countless brick-and-mortar retailers a run for their money since it burst onto the scene in the early 1990s.
- Walmart is one retailer that has proven to be big competition for Amazon.
- Retail experts say that Walmart continues to do certain things better than Amazon.
- Price, return policy, and shopping experience are a few of the areas where Walmart has an edge over the e-commerce giant, these experts told Business Insider.
Amazon has given countless brick-and-mortar retailers a run for their money since it burst onto the scene in the early 1990s.
But there are still several competitors Amazon hasn’t managed to fully fend off – including Walmart, which earned triple the profit of Amazon last year.
So why is Walmart continuing to dominate? In many ways, it does things better than Amazon.
“Walmart has a lot of things going for them,” Bob Phibbs, CEO of the consulting firm The Retail Doctor, told Business Insider. “They have doubled down on knowing their customers and making sure their employees are ready to meet their needs.”
We took a closer look at the two companies and found eight ways Walmart is still doing things better than Amazon.
Read on to see where Walmart has the edge:
Free shipping with no membership required
Amazon Prime saves millions of people lots of money in annual shipping costs, and its membership also comes with myriad perks, like access to movies and music.
But Prime memberships cost $119 annually, so many people shy away from the service due to its cost. Others use Prime but fail to take full advantage, either by not ordering enough products online or by not using its music- or video-streaming services. Walmart offers free shipping on any online orders over $35, with no membership required. And that’s two-day shipping, just like Prime.
The ability to pay with cash
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About 30% of Americans do not have a credit card, according to the most recent Gallup data. And a recent survey conducted by the FDIC found that 6.5% of American households didn’t have a bank account at all.
Even those with credit cards and bank accounts may still opt to use cash for their purchases, and you can’t shop online with a handful of dollar bills. Walmart and Amazon both accept multiple types of payment, including electronic benefit transfer cards for food products, but when it comes to cash, Walmart wins.
Immediate access to goods
Amazon Prime is convenient, and if you’re a busy person, ordering a product for two-day shipping often gets it to you faster than you could find time to go to a store anyway.
But the fact that the majority of Walmarts are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week (except Christmas), means you can get toothpaste, a necktie, Hot Wheels toy cars, or a few gallons of milk any time, day or night.
“At Walmart, you can take it home immediately,” Bob Negen, co-owner of WhizBang Retail Training, told Business Insider.
The return process
It’s true that Amazon could not make the buying experience much easier – you can have dog food, diapers, or designer shoes on their way to you with a couple clicks of the mouse or taps on the screen. Walmart’s website is easy to navigate, but the checkout process isn’t quite as streamlined as Amazon’s.
What Walmart does make easy is the return process. Whether you bought an item online or in the store, you can bring the product to a Walmart for the return.
Walmart “knows returns are hassles, so they place their customer service area in the very front of the store, so you can manage all those needs quickly,” Phibbs told Business Insider. “Amazon returns are one of the biggest hassles for its customers.”
Better prices, in many cases
If you take time to compare prices at Walmart and Amazon side by side, you will often find lower prices at Walmart. And even if you don’t, Walmart offers a price-match guarantee.
According to their written policy, “if you find a lower price from an online retailer on an identical, in-stock product, tell us and we’ll match it.”
So in terms of pricing, Walmart can meet or beat Amazon in most cases.
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Walmart is the largest private employer in America, with approximately 2.2 million employees.
Amazon, by contrast, employs about 566,000 people, or three and a half times fewer. Both see their workforces temporarily swell during the winter holiday season, and both have faced scrutiny for employment practices in the past, but by the numbers, Walmart is undeniably a massive job creator. (For the record, Amazon is the country’s second largest employer.)
A true shopping experience
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Ultimately, online shopping is more convenient than going to a brick-and-mortar store, but shopping in person is more fun.
Walmart features discount bins loaded with games, music, DVDs, and more, so you never know what treasure you might find. And when strolling the aisles searching for that one item you know you need, you may well find many more you love.
“At Walmart you can ‘shop’ in the traditional sense of the word,” Negen told Business Insider. “You can wander the aisles, look at the labels, and experience the merchandise. A lot of people like this – they like to get out of the house, away from the kids, and have an hour or so to themselves.”