Walmart vs Amazon: Shipping Wars
Walmart and Amazon have been at war for years. The quick summary, in a History Channel version, would go something like this.
In 2005, Amazon launched its revolutionary 2-day shipping option to its Amazon Prime members. At that time, for $79 anyone could order and receive their products within two days. Unbeknownst to the brick-and-mortar giant, Walmart, this would be the first shot fired in a shipping war that continues to this day.
Walmart was, seemingly, unfazed by this headline-making move from Amazon. Legend tells, during a board meeting deep in the heart of Bentonville Arkansas a Walmart executive was quoted as saying, ” Whoopty-Doo”. After all, they knew that each day 37 million consumers walk through their doors every day. Who wants to pay $79 and still have to wait 2 days for their stuff?
In 2015, Walmart launched the same day pick-up option to their customers. In fact, they went so far as to design and build colossal rocket ship-shaped pickup storage lockers in the front of their stores. For anyone gazing upon this behemoth, it seemed science fiction had come to life.
The stage was set. The war had officially started. The billion-dollar question was would people pay to wait for 2 days or walk in a store for free?
Amazon began testing a new feature that would allow customers to receive their goods within two hours in 2016. This was in select cities and mostly in foreign countries in order to perfect their new idea. By 2018, Amazon had fully launched the ability for customers (within a reasonable radius of their warehouses) to order everything from a laptop to a gallon of milk and it would be on their doorstep in just 2 hours.
Not coincidentally, while Amazon was testing Walmart was also testing. Walmart wanted to grab the curbside pickup business for its grocery products. By 2019, this feature was available in over 2,000 of their locations. A phrase was coined during this time called “click to mortar“. That phrase was used to show the hybrid nature of computer shopping while also boosting brick and mortar store sales. The intent was for customers to order their groceries and then pick them up at a time of their convenience. However, there was a demand for the other products in the store to also be available for curbside pickup. Walmart relented but did not advertise this feature. Instead, a savvy shopper would have to just try and see if they could sneak a few other items along with their grocery order.
Then came the disease which cannot be mentioned. People were told to stay at home. The outside world was a dangerous place. Do not congregate. Fear everyone.
The Shipping Wars between Walmart and Amazon escalated to unprecedented levels. Now we change from the History Channel version to the Kentucky Derby version. At the beginning of the pandemic, Walmart continued to rely on their curbside service. Amazon surged ahead with its already popular 2-hour delivery program.
For those unfortunate consumers who are not near an Amazon warehouse, you just had to take your chances with Walmart curbside scheduling. That schedule was quickly consumed with orders causing delays of several days. To recap, many Americans we’re not near an Amazon warehouse, could not go into public, and Walmart would take several days to fulfill even a simple order.
So the race was on. Could Walmart successfully transition from Curbside to doorstep? If so, how fast and how reliable? From here, we will look at some graphs that show how successful each company has become in different geographical areas.
In this first graph, we see a heat map of online searches comparing both companies throughout the United States.
It gets even more interesting if we drill down to a specific state. In this graph, the heat map reflects the popularity of each company in specific cities.
Even though Ohio and Florida both showed in favor of Amazon on the national map, breaking it down two specific cities and regions, provides very compelling insight.
By examining these states, we see a trend that points to one simple fact: There are more Walmarts than there are Amazon warehouses. Therefore, it stands to reason (and shows in the graphs) among the millions of consumers who do not live inside major metropolitan areas, they are choosing the delivery option offered by Walmart.
Now it’s time for you to choose a winner. It is important to note that these heat Maps reflect those who desire same-day delivery. Both companies are charging a fee for this ” premium service”. There are many others who are perfectly willing to delay their deliveries and keep just the basic subscription cost.
Pay more and get it faster. Pay less and get it later. Either way, you’re gonna pay. Thank you disease, who shall not be named.
Who is winning the war? Are you willing to pay more and get it now? Are you patient and frugal? We’ll have to conduct this study again next year the see how the majority voted.