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Online shopping has seen an incredible surge due to the pandemic and resulting lockdowns. In fact, total e-commerce sales for 2021 were estimated at $870.8 billion, up 14%, according to the Department of Commerce. But not all stores are equal, and consumers are very particular about what makes an online shopping experience worth their time and money.
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A new GOBankingRates survey of which store offers the best online shopping experience finds that American consumers overwhelmingly prefer Walmart for their online shopping at 42%. In terms of age groups, the 65+ age group had the strongest preference for Walmart at 49%, followed by the 45-54 age group at 47% and the 55-64 age group at 40%. After Walmart, Target is second at 31%, and Costco is a long way behind at 9%. Finally, at the bottom of the list for best online shopping experience is 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? Read on to find out.
What Makes Walmart #1 for Online Shopping?
There are a few offerings that likely helped propel Walmart ahead of the rest.
According to experts, the top spot is a combination of several factors, including the Walmart+ Advantage, Walmart’s same-day on-demand shopping service.
Shannon Vissers, Retail Analyst at MerchantMaverick.comGOBankingRates said 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 perks as Walmart+. In addition to free same-day delivery, Walmart+ also offers free ground shipping with no minimum order and member pricing on fuel and prescription drugs,” Vissers said.
The Walmart+ partnership with American Express
Another perk (for some) of Walmart+ members is its partnership with American Express, which was announced in October 2021.
“I remember surprising a lot of people last year when American Express added a free Walmart+ membership to its Platinum cardholders,” said Ted Rossman, Senior Industry Analyst, creditcards.comsaid GOBankingRates. “At first it seemed like a weird game – isn’t the Amex Platinum for millionaires, not for the kind 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 attractive to consumers when shopping online is the wide variety of items available from Walmart. 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 pull that off because it uses a massive marketplace for sellers, similar to Amazon. While Target has a seller marketplace called Target Plus, it’s invitation-only and therefore 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 put tremendous effort into catering to diverse audiences online.
For example, it has expanded the number of language offerings on its website, allowing it to be a leading retailer to a global audience, as using the native language makes the shopping experience a familiar and easy one, Hila Shitrit-Nissim, CMO of BLEND localizationsaid GOBankingRates. “This is just one of several ways they’ve created a meaningful online shopping experience for their customers,” said Shitrit-Nissim.
Gain access to talent and knowledge
Walmart’s omnichannel strategy, which included buying successful e-commerce companies like Jet.com, Bonobos, and ModCloth, gave Walmart overnight access to the talent and expertise needed to build a world-class online experience .
“Armed with this expertise, they have invested in a mobile app, fast shipping and online in-store pickup (BOPIS), etc. to create a seamless customer experience,” Fang Cheng, Founder and CEO of lincsaid GOBankingRates.
Cheng added that Walmart’s proximity to customers is a huge advantage over everyone — even Amazon.
“With more than 5,000 stores nationwide, Walmart has claimed in recent years that 90% of Americans live within 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 pickup or prefer to visit a store fearing packages will be lost or stolen on their doorstep. Additionally, local stores offer buyers an easy way to process returns and get personalized customer service when needed.”
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