Wal-Mart Slashes Online Prices To Match Amazon...Does It Matter?

Tyler Durden's picture

Wal-Mart's in-store prices have long been the lowest in the retail industry after decades of building a massive store footprint and subsequently beating vendors into submission.  That said, with brick-and-mortar sales continually being eroded by online sales, pricing dominance against Amazon is becoming far more important than in-store dominance against the likes of Target.

To that end, as Reuters points out today, Wal-Mart is seemingly embracing a new pricing war with Amazon this holiday season and now sports online prices that are nearly on par with the online retailing giant.

Now, the shrinking gap is also becoming noticeable across a broad range of product categories online, according to a price study conducted for Reuters, as well as interviews with pricing experts, retail consultants, vendors and company sources.


Prices at Walmart.com are now only 0.3 percent more expensive than Amazon on average, according to the study by retail data analytics firm Market Track, which analyzed prices of 213 products in 11 categories over a period of 700 days ending November 7, 2017.


By comparison, Wal-Mart’s online prices were 3 percent higher than Amazon’s on average in the first 350 days ending November 7, 2016, according to the study.


In the popular wearables category, which includes fitness trackers and smart watches, Wal-Mart’s prices are 6.4 percent lower than Amazon this year compared to 12.6 percent higher in the same period a year ago. For sports and outdoor products, Wal-Mart is now 1.3 percent lower versus 3.5 percent higher a year ago.

Price Check

Of course, the question remains whether Wal-Mart will be able to maintain consistently lower pricing which is key to boosting sales throughout the year...particularly against a competitor who has repeatedly demonstrated a willingness to lose money in favor of market share gains.

On Cyber Monday, the busiest day of the year for internet shopping, online deals and temporary promotions will overshadow pricing for both retail giants.


“We are committed to having online prices that meet or beat prices at other top sites,” said Wal-Mart spokesman Dan Toporek. He said for some items the retailer now displays two prices online to show shoppers when they can get a lower price by picking up their order in a store, but declined to comment further on the company’s pricing strategy.


Amazon spokeswoman Kate Scarpa said nothing has changed in the retailer’s approach to delivering low prices to customers.


“Amazon’s prices are as low or lower than any other retailer and we work hard for customers to ensure that’s true every day,” she said, declining to comment further on the retailer’s pricing strategy.

So far the lower online pricing strategy is paying off for Wal-Mart, at least in terms of market share gains, but it has come at a cost of over $1 billion in pricing "investments".

Online sales at the world’s largest retailer grew 50 percent year-over-year in the most recent quarter, helping it post its strongest quarterly U.S. revenue growth in nearly a decade. It now accounts for 3.6 percent of total U.S. online sales in the 12 months to October 2017, up from a 2.8 percent share a year ago, according to digital research firm eMarketer.


Even with this progress, Wal-Mart has a long way to go. Amazon’s share of the U.S. e-commerce market stands at 43.5 percent. About half of U.S. households are estimated to have Amazon Prime subscriptions, Cowen and Co has predicted, making them less likely to comparison-shop.


What is more, the retailer said last year and again this October month that it would slow down the rollout of new stores and divert that capital expenditure towards becoming more competitive online.


“Right now the better use of cash is to compete with Amazon and invest that in the business, because if anyone has a fighting chance to stand up to Amazon, it is Wal-Mart,” said Charles Sizemore, the chief investment officer at Sizemore Capital Management, which owns Wal-Mart shares.

Meanwhile, the real question is whether Wal-Mart can match not only Amazon's pricing, but the overall customer experience which has made it dangerously easy to shop online while constantly promising faster and faster delivery times.  As the Financial Times recently pointed out, at wall street doesn't think Wal-Mart has a shot...

...and here's another look at how Amazon's market cap has performed so far in 2017.

So what say you? Is Amazon an unstoppable force in the retail industry or are market gains in 2017 just a reflection of a massive tech bubble?

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Arnold's picture

Old school Unicorn vs the New Wave Unicorn.

We will tell our grandchildren this legend, If we had any.

Bush Baby's picture

Amazon.com is not a retailer, it is a version of Ebay on which retailers sell their wares.
Amazon.com does not own the products sold , but Walmart does.

Amazon.com does not take a loss on unsold or marked down merchandise, but Walmart does.

So the only way Walmart beats Amazon.com is by creating Walmart.com which uses the same business plan as Amazon.com, by passing the majority of the risk and reward to the suppliers.

Walmart is probably the only company with the funding and distribution network to compete with Amazon.

Battle of the titans

Berspankme's picture

Walmart.com is already as good as Amz in my opinion. I hate both but I have actually bought from Walmart.com. Have never bought from amz and I wont

a Smudge by any other name's picture

When I heard what Walmart does to farmers it demoted them heavily in my purchasing. When I realized that Amazon is playing some VERY SHADY and potentially BLACK LETTER ANTI-TRUST and ANTICOMPETITIVE pricing policy it knocked them down heavily too. So I started the holiday shopping season with Ebay. And I'll be looking at Overstock. And thank God for Craigslist to fill the gaps. Not to mention Goodwill which has been the mainstay of my daily wardrobe for lo these many years.

bidaskspread's picture

Cyber Monday, black Friday..bah..... best deals I saw were for 11.11. A lot  of these "sellers" on Amazon are just brokers that have warehousing for imports that they slap their logos on from Chinese OEMs. You can get a lot of these products without the logos for a fraction of the cost. Check out gearbeast.com as another ebay alternative.  My bet is FedEx or Ups will partner with these Chinese OEMs to take on Amazon to eliminate the middle man "brokers".

jcaz's picture

Good example of the incompetence that now manages Walmart-

They think that "matching" prices will bring in traffic-

That's comical.

Sam Walton is rolling in his grave.


Billy the Poet's picture

Walmart.com is already as good as Amz in my opinion.


I've been using jet.com. They were recently bought by Walmart. Faster website than walmart.com with a wider range of products. It doesn't have quite the same depth and breadth as Amazon but it's a fairly good knock off. Free shipping over 35 bucks. I've been recieving my packages in 1 to 3 days from purchase.

two hoots's picture

Walmart's website design needs much work to be as clean, searchable and comparable as Amazon.  Also need "Good Value" recommendation on products they believe in and sell well.   It's not just about price and merchandise.

Billy the Poet's picture

Walmart's website design needs much work to be as clean, searchable and comparable as Amazon.


Try jet.com which was recently bought by walmart. As close to an Amazon knock-off as you will find.

ThanksIwillHaveAnother's picture

I looked at Jet months ago and not even close to Amazon website functionality.

booboo's picture

Walmart needs a online jazzy name that will sparkan emotion in an otherwise mentally dead hipsters....

Try Wall-E, wait, not good, that is the movie robot that picks up trash after humans fly off this plastic ridden planet. On second thought it fits.

Ilmarinen's picture

I was under the impression that Wal-Mart heavily uses consignment, which is essentially selling products that you do not own.

ThanksIwillHaveAnother's picture

Walmart doesn't own the product until it is scanned in the checkout line, then ownership transferred to customer after confirmed payment.  

Panic Mode's picture

Amazon is going to slaughter every single retailer on earth.

Thought Processor's picture


In a race to the bottom, Amazon will win.  As long as people sign up for Prime, the eco system membership model wins.

Bush Baby's picture

Amazon won't slaughter every retailer on earth, but they will get a slice of everything they sell.

I hate to say it, but it does allow smaller manufactures to get their product on the shelf of one of the biggest stores in the world, and that would be Amazon.


LetThemEatRand's picture

Pretty hard to feel sorry for Wal-Mart, whose business model was to sell Chinese-sourced crap in a large box in Everytown USA and put all small business competitors out of business while receiving massive tax breaks for "bringing jobs" to the community.  

Handful of Dust's picture

I avoid Walmart ever since they stopped selling Confederate stuff. Not that I'm a big supporter of Confederate stuff, but it's just the principle of the matter.


Same with anti-American Starbucks and Under Armour. sadly, Starbucks wont go bankrupt but happily, there's a very good chance UA will.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

UA amazes me. "Under Armor" sounds tough, tactical, rough and ready. Utilitarian, practical, designed to help you tough through anything.

As far as I can tell they sell t shirts. Am I missing something or does this brand just fail to communicate to me?

Ilmarinen's picture

The last time I bought their products was when I was in highschool and much more athletic.  They were breatheable mesh shirts to be worn under your uniform that kept you feeling cool and comfortable.  The name makes sense in that context.

yellowsub's picture

They're expensive spandex.  I find their base layer clothing to be inferior to the much cheaper Reeboks that cost much less for running.

Berspankme's picture

Everything that’s wrong with america can be found on a leisurely stroll thru Walmart and Starbucks

sun tzu's picture

And the idiots wjo support scamazon

Billy the Poet's picture

I buy lots of US (and even Pennsylvania) made products at Walmart.

LetThemEatRand's picture

Sure it's possible to find American made goods at Wal-Mart, but "estimates say that Chinese suppliers make up 70-80 percent of Walmart’s merchandise, leaving less than 20 percent for American-made products."


Chances are also good that many of the American-made products are "assembled" in America, with parts sourced from China.

Billy the Poet's picture

I don't buy a lot of common consumer goods. I've purchased dozens and dozens of the US made five gallon buckets (number 2, food grade) at 3 bucks a piece. No assembly required. Same with the 2 gallon glass jars I use for tobacco curing and storage.

Lots of local food in the grocery section both packaged and fresh.

motorollin's picture

Lots of local food in the grocery section both packaged and fresh.


Gotta take issue with that. Butcher + farmer's market will provide for anyone without the means or will to grow their own. Food from WalMart is shit. They treat their suppliers like shit, so why support them?

Billy the Poet's picture

I do grow some of my own food. Had a fresh salad yesterday and candied sweet potatoes.

The local farmers market closed up weeks ago. The other local grocery sells many of the same products as Walmart for an average of forty percent more. If you'll make up the difference I start shopping there.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

One day, not today, not here, not now, but one day you will tell us how you grow candied sweet potatos.



Billy the Poet's picture

I certainly will. Here's a teaser. Instead of cinnamon or other store bought spices I add a few spicebush berries picked from a stand of trees down by the river.


Spicebush Identification




RedBaron616's picture

And virtually no one will go online to look to see if there are American-made alternatives. I bought very high-quality jumper cables and tire repair kits both all made in America. Sadly, most won't take the effort or pay a bit more. I also buy my jeans made in America, online of course.

FoggyWorld's picture

Part of the problem is that Obama took away that requirement to show the country of origin on every product.  It now can take time and patience if you truly want to Buy American.

Obama did that with just his pen and Trump needs to countermand quickly.

ParkAveFlasher's picture

Walmart predominantly sourcing from China has an enormous downward push on domestic prices.  To be a Walmart supplier is to essentially be a subsidiary of Walmart.  Large multinationals are experiencing this too, they get pushed around the map by the Walmart buyers who out-leverage them at the word "go".

Billy the Poet's picture

No one is holding a gun to the heads of Walmart suppliers. Prices should drop in a mature and efficient economy.

And if Walmart's profit motive is bad then why worry about the profit motive of their suppliers? They can make their own deals.

I used to be one of those people who never shopped at Walmart and then I learned that they pay higher wages than other local stores and they have lots of quality US products. While it's true that Walmart does use leverage to get tax breaks many of the horror stories I had heard about them back when I was a Democrat simply aren't true.

Billy the Poet's picture

I found a better deal on martini glasses at bedbathandbeyond.com than at amazon. Same item is nine bucks cheaper. Will buy the share too which is the same price. Free shipping.

Arnold's picture

I never figured you for an extended pinkie guy, Billy.

Billy the Poet's picture

Gotta love Nick and Nora.


Nick and Nora - Alcohol moments



PS -- "shaker" came out as "share" in my post above.

Arnold's picture

Jacking the thread a bit.

I read that you were still harvesting your garden.
I did a side by side comparo of Potatoes, Turnip, Rudebega and Sweet Potatoes on Thursday.

Prepared the same, mashed with butter.

When peeling both the Turnip and the Rudebega I caught a faint Horseradish odor which seemed promising.

Turnip was good, a bit different flavor from Potatoe, but very edible.
The Rudebega was too sweet, and the Sweet Potatoe was a diabetics' nightmare.

I've got the Rudebega top sprouting for spring, as well as a Pineapple top,as a companion for my other lonely Pensyltucky Pineapple.

Billy the Poet's picture

I purchased rutabaga and turnip seeds last spring but they never made it into the ground. I've been growing beets, carrots, parsnips and root parsley for a couple of years. All of those overwinter well under glass (except beets)

I grow New Jersey sweet potatoes obtained from Baker Creek. They are a good solid, tasty potato that is not too sweet and they store well. I've been taking cuttings in the fall and overwintering them for replanting in the spring. Haven't tried them mashed yet but that's on the menu.

Dug up my potato (multiplier) onions this week. Seems like the bunches have not fully separated. Not sure if I should pull them apart as they are, let them season, save them for replanting or just put them back in the bed as they are.


chunga's picture

Baker Creek sells Black Krim tomato seeds that are fantastic. They're ugly looking things but holy mackerel they taste great.

FoggyWorld's picture

Now try parsnips - even better than turnips!

FORD_FIESTA's picture

That's the problem......who the fuck needs Martini Glasses?

Billy the Poet's picture

Being semi-retired is a big job. Gotta have the right tools.

Arnold's picture

Branch Water will eat through the bottom of a cheap Dixie Cup now a days.

a Smudge by any other name's picture

I have a cabinet full of fancy glasses. Got 'em all at thrift and garage sales but there's tight logic in glassware and such. Snifters are meant to heat the booze in your palm, high stems are for the opposite. Both have convex tops to concentrate aroma. Highball glasses concentrate the booze around ice. Tumblers do the same but reduce the size so the booze doesn't dilute all to hell before you finish it. And shots aren't properly shots without a shot glass. Mason jars and white lightning go together like you and your second cousin behind the wood pile. Pint glasses only incidentally make good weapons.

Every booze made in this era is paired with a particular glass that enhances the appreciation and ejoyment of the booze. It's all about the time honored adoration of booze. There's nothing faggy or elitist about it.....when you live in a rabid consumer society that cyclically manufactures, discards and remanufactures again. And again and again.

Billy the Poet's picture

An informative and interesting comment. Thanks!

FoggyWorld's picture

And you can buy someone else's slightly used glassware, china and silverware at Replacements Ltd. for reasonable prices.  And they grade the quality of what they are selling.