Ahead of the 2022 holiday shopping season, Walmart is making a fresh push to compete with Amazon Prime, and the company recently announced more attractive returns policies, faster delivery and new truck drivers for the holiday season.
As of this writing, Walmart’s stock is valued at $129.70, while Amazon’s stock comes in at $113.00. That might come as a surprise considering that Amazon has become the ubiquitous place to buy almost everything online in 2022. Amazon is also much more than a retailer, and its Prime Video service has collected award after award while its in-house products (Kindle, Ring, Echo) are household names. And if you want to watch Thursday Night Football in 2022, you better be a Prime member.
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The holidays are still months away, but Amazon, which recently announced it will host a second Prime Day-style event in October, the Prime Early Access Sale, to try and lure early holiday shoppers. During Prime Day, Walmart took out advertisements with lots of websites (including SPY) to promote its own alternative to Prime Day.
So can Walmart really compete with Amazon when it comes to online shopping?
Walmart, the original retail mega-giant, recently announced several plans to make holiday shopping easier and more attractive for its customer base, including a simplified “no concerns” return policy that makes returning unwanted items a more streamlined process. Free no-questions-asked returns has been one of the defining features of Amazon Prime, and it’s not hard to see why Walmart feels the need to update its own return policy.
As part of their expanded return policy, Walmart said they will offer Walmart+ members in select stores the option to schedule a return starting from their app. It says that members don’t need to provide a box or a label. All customers have to do is simply hand it off to a delivery driver to send it back for a full refund. In addition, all eligible purchases made on or after October 1 can be returned through January 31, 2023.
Walmart does have one major advantage over Amazon — you can find Walmart stores in every corner of the country. Yet, despite this advantage, Walmart’s version of Prime free shipping, Walmart+, doesn’t have nearly the name recognition of Prime. A Prime membership also comes with tons of additional perks such as access to Prime Video and other services.
A press release from the company shares that Walmart will also be rolling out more convenient pickup and delivery options, offering express delivery within 2 hours and free next-day or two-day delivery on online orders.
To keep up with these plans, Walmart announced plans to hire 40,000 additional associates in various seasonal and full-time roles to help them fulfill roles across the company, including store associates, truck drivers, and customer care associates.
This expansion appears to be part of Walmart’s mission to position itself strongly amongst competitors during the 2022 holiday season.
Amazon recently announced plans to host an Amazon Early Access Sale for Prime members on October 11 and 12, while Target revealed a Deal Days promotion, touted as its biggest ever, that will run between October 6 and 8, offering “hundreds of thousands of incredible deals” across all categories. Target’s also offering a price match guarantee on most items purchased from October 6 through December 24.
Target and Amazon both currently offer generous return policies and also offer two-day shipping on most products, and it looks like Walmart has leveled that playing field with these latest announcements.
Will free shipping, no concern returns and faster delivery be enough for Walmart to compete with Amazon Prime?
Here’s one simple test: count the number of Walmart boxes and Walmart trucks you see in your neighborhood compared to Prime. Here in New York City, Prime delivery trucks and Prime boxes are everywhere. While Walmart has some big advantages, especially with Black Friday shoppers, who are known to camp out for a great doorbuster deal, the dominance of Prime shopping in the online world is still undisputed.
Full disclosure: SPY has worked with both Walmart and Amazon Prime on sponsored content campaigns.
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