Consumers Weigh In: Walmart Beats Costco and Target for the Best Online Shopping Experience

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Online shopping has seen an incredible rise because of the pandemic and the ensuing lockdowns. Indeed, total e-commerce sales for 2021 were estimated at $870.8 billion, an increase of 14%, according to the Commerce Department. But not all stores are faring the same and consumers are very particular in terms of what makes an online shopping experience worth their time and money.

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A new GOBankingRates survey that asked which store had the best online shopping experience finds that American consumers overwhelmingly favor Walmart for their online shopping, at 42%. In terms of age groups, the 65 and over age group had the strongest preference for Walmart at 49%, followed by the 45 to 54 age group at 47%, and the 55 to 64 age group at 40%. Following Walmart, Target takes the second spot with 31%, and Costco is far behind with 9%. Finally, at the bottom of the list for best online shopping experience are Ikea at 6%, Dollar General at 6%, Dollar Tree at 4% and Five Below at a meager 2%.

So what makes Walmart more attractive for online shopping? Keep reading to find out.

What Puts Walmart at No. 1 for Online Shopping?

There are a few offerings that have likely helped to boost Walmart ahead of the others.

Walmart+

According to experts, getting in the top spot is a combination of several factors, including the Walmart+ perk, Walmart’s same-day on-demand shopping service.

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Shannon Vissers, retail analyst at MerchantMaverick.com, told GOBankingRates that Walmart+  is similar to Amazon Fresh or Instacart.

“Target does offer a similarly priced same-day delivery service called Shipt, but it doesn’t have as many benefits as Walmart+. In addition to free same-day delivery, Walmart+ also offers free ground shipping with no order minimum, and member prices on fuel and prescription meds,” Vissers said.

The Walmart+ Partnership With American Express

Another benefit (for some) Walmart+ members is its partnership with American Express, which was announced in October 2021.

“I remember it surprised a lot of people last year when American Express added a free Walmart+ membership for its Platinum cardmembers,” Ted Rossman, senior industry analyst, CreditCards.com, told GOBankingRates. “On the face of it, it seemed like an odd match — isn’t the Amex Platinum for millionaires, not the kinds of people who shop at Walmart? But Amex said Walmart is actually among the most popular retailers for its Platinum card members.”

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Variety of Items

Another factor that is appealing to consumers for online shopping is Walmart’s huge variety of items. Indeed, while Walmart, Target and Costco all offer highly navigable websites and apps, and have a convenient online checkout process, Walmart sells a much larger number of items than Target or Costco, Merchant Maverick’s Vissers said.

“The variety is pretty incredible, and Walmart is able to achieve it because it uses a vast seller marketplace, similar to Amazon. Target does have a seller marketplace called ‘Target Plus’ but it’s invite-only, and thus, much smaller than Walmart’s — 272 sellers on Target Plus versus 100,000 Walmart Marketplace sellers,” she said.

Catering to a Wide Range of Consumers

Some experts also note that another driver for Walmart is that the retailer has made tremendous efforts to cater to various audiences online.

For example, it has expanded the number of language offerings on its website, which is allowing it to be a frontrunner retailer among global audiences, as the use of native language makes the shopping experience one that is familiar and easy, Hila Shitrit-Nissim, CMO of BLEND Localization, told GOBankingRates. “This is just one of several ways they’ve created a meaningful online shopping experience for their customers,” Shitrit-Nissim said.

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Gaining Access to Talent and Knowledge

Walmart’s omnichannel strategy that entailed purchasing successful e-commerce businesses, such as Jet.com, Bonobos and ModCloth, gave Walmart overnight access to the talent and know-how required to build a best-in-class online experience.

“Armed with this expertise, they’ve invested in a mobile app, fast shipping and buy online pick-up in-store (BOPIS) service, etc., to create a seamless customer experience,” Fang Cheng, founder and CEO of Linc, told GOBankingRates.

Accessibility

Cheng added that Walmart’s proximity to customers is a huge advantage over everybody — even Amazon.

“With more than 5,000 stores nationwide, Walmart has made the claim in recent years that 90% of Americans live within only 10 miles of one of their stores. This goes back to the convenience of one-stop shopping while giving shoppers full control over how and where they receive online orders,” Cheng said. “Walmart has made BOPIS super easy, whether shoppers want the convenience of curbside grocery pick-up or prefer visiting a store because they’re concerned packages will be lost or stolen off their doorstep. Plus, nearby stores give shoppers an easy way to handle returns and receive in-person customer service, as needed.”

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About the Author

Yaël Bizouati-Kennedy is a full-time financial journalist and has written for several publications, including Dow Jones, The Financial Times Group, Bloomberg and Business Insider. She also worked as a vice president/senior content writer for major NYC-based financial companies, including New York Life and MSCI. Yaël is now freelancing and most recently, she co-authored  the book “Blockchain for Medical Research: Accelerating Trust in Healthcare,” with Dr. Sean Manion. (CRC Press, April 2020) She holds two master’s degrees, including one in Journalism from New York University and one in Russian Studies from Université Toulouse-Jean Jaurès, France.
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