If you missed the big news about Walmart this month, here it is: their earnings surpassed expectations, and the company hit a major ecommerce milestone with $100 billion in sales last year.

This announcement prompted many ecommerce managers and executives (I certainly did) to reflect on their strategy regarding Walmart.com and if their plan was appropriate. 

It is true that overlooking Walmart is easy these days. Amazon is still the king in the ecommerce realm, and flashy new entrants like Temu or Shein are being extremely aggressive in their marketing. And Walmart is in this awkward space where its ecommerce operations are too big to be completely ignored, but too small to be a company’s main focus (I get approached by Amazon agencies every day, but they very rarely mention Walmart). 

I am guilty of this; my news commentary articles don’t reflect the weight of Walmart in the industry, as I only wrote about the retail titan once or twice in the last few months. Yet, what I find the most impressive about Walmart isn’t its sheer size in the ecommerce space; it is the velocity of its growth and its potential due to its existing infrastructure. I like telling this story of this conversation I had with a regular customer over the phone. I always assumed he bought from Amazon and was shocked when he told me he preferred ordering from Walmart because delivery is a day faster than Amazon in his area.

Today, I don’t want to give you an overview of Walmart vs Amazon, compare their financials, future investments, or current strategies. I want us to put ourselves in the customer’s shoes and compare what the shopping experience is like. I will focus on the products offered, pricing, and logistics. Then, I’ll try to explain what potential differences could mean on a broader scale.

To do so, I will pretend I am shopping for shoe polish (I just ordered some from Amazon before starting writing this article, without even looking at Walmart or other sources). I’d love to review more data, compare many different niches and markets, but then I’d need to write a whole book that may be obsolete within months. So for now, let’s focus on one product and see what we find. I specifically compared the top 39 products that appear in the search results when searching for “shoe polish”. Sometimes, the differences between Amazon and Walmart can be so massive that I believe there is a good chance we can extrapolate this anecdotal piece of data to other categories..

Ad Space : Amazon Displays Four Times More Ads Than Walmart

As a customer, the first thing you have to deal with searching for any item is often the crazy amount of search results: over 1000 for “shoe shine”, on both Amazon and Walmart. On both platforms, search results are a mix of organic results and sponsored listings (meaning these may not be the most relevant results, but the brand is paying to advertise the product so it appears in the top of the search results).

Amazon displays a lot more sponsored listings than Walmart, over 40% of listings compared to about 10% for Walmart. Here is what the search results look like on both platforms, to give you an idea of what the customer experience is like.

For those of you who have been shopping on Amazon for years, you may realize that the search results on Amazon contain a lot more sponsored products than in the past. Many sellers have the feeling Amazon became “pay-to-win” for new products, and advertising became a lot more strategic (and costly) over the years. Amazon’s ad services revenue is bringing in more than $14 billion in Q4 2023, making it an important source of revenues for them. 

On the customer’s side, this huge proportion of ads can be detrimental to the shopping experience, making it difficult for shoppers to find the most relevant products. The FTC has an eye on this trend; you can find a more detailed analysis here: https://fmaingret.com/2023/10/is-amazon-now-mostly-ads-how-the-recent-ftc-lawsuit-addresses-the-user-and-seller-experience/

On the other hand, Walmart only features a few sponsored products at the top. As we’ll see in the rest of this article, the competition is not as intense on the Walmart marketplace, and CPC tends to be lower than on Amazon. As Walmart ecommerce sales keep growing, should we expect more space dedicated to advertising? Probably. But I assume Walmart ecommerce leaders have an eye on what Amazon is doing, to come up with the best strategy. As of today, I believe Walmart’s smaller ad space is better for consumers, but it may not last forever.

Pricing : Is “Everyday Low Prices” Still True when Shopping Online?

Walmart built its reputation on lower prices, which is the reason why the retail chain has so many loyal consumers. On the other hand, Amazon also tends to attract value-oriented customers. In the last few years, we’ve seen thousands of Asian manufacturers joining the Amazon marketplace, offering their items at reasonably low prices. Amazon also became extremely competitive, with many niches at near saturation and many products commoditized, which drives prices down. So which platform has the cheapest items, and how large is the price difference in our case study?

Our first 39 search results for “shoe polish” on Amazon have an average selling price of $11.68, compared to only $9.76 on Walmart. Wow, that is quite the difference. Is Walmart pushing low prices to match its value proposition? Or is the competitive environment on Walmart more intense, leading to price wars? In reality, the median price tells us a different story: $9.99 on Amazon versus $9.20 on Walmart. The distribution of prices makes it obvious the outliers are skewing the average for Amazon.

If we exclude the products over $25, the average price for Amazon products drops to $10.04, compared to $9.76 on Walmart, or a difference of $0.28. While this is only a very specific market, and 39 listings among millions, this suggests that the pricing difference between the two marketplaces, despite less competition on Walmart, could be rather small. Sellers may be aligning their prices (Amazon often takes away the buybox from a seller listing its product at a lower price on another channel), but it is worth noting that both marketplaces have similar cost and fee structures.

Logistics : Is Amazon Really the King of Logistics?

In the age of Amazon Prime, waiting more than a day or two quickly became unacceptable for many customers. Only ultra-low-cost competitors like Temu or Shein are able to make their customers wait for a bit longer. But Amazon isn’t the only company able to ship packages fast and efficiently. Walmart can leverage its size and its network of retail stores and warehouses to offer impressive performance when it comes to logistics. So who wins the logistics battle between the two giants?

There are over 1000 listings available on each marketplace. However, the difference is shocking when looking at items available with next-day delivery: almost 500 listings on Amazon and only 8 for Walmart! (and these are products for leather car seats, not shoe polish). I compared the delivery speed between an Amazon Prime account and a Walmart Plus account. Walmart Plus did not increase delivery speed while Prime makes a huge difference. But why does Amazon deliver so much faster?

A first reason could be the fulfillment mode used by sellers. A lot more listings seem to be using FBA on Amazon, which drastically speeds up the shipping process. Other reasons are more complex. It could be that Amazon’s logistics networks outperform Walmart, that this specific product or my zip code do not represent the overall shipping time frames for both marketplaces, or that Walmart is more conservative when displaying delivery dates.

What Brands are selling on Each Marketplace?

Are the same brands selling on both marketplaces? Again, I looked at the first 39 search results, and while there is a lot of overlap, Amazon features 15 different brands in the first 39 listings compared to 10 for Walmart.

In my opinion, the reason why we see a larger variety of brands is due to Amazon dedicating more space to sponsored listings: it gives brands with little recognition more visibility. Some brands may have different strategies and decide not to address Walmart yet, but I believe this is less true than a few years ago.

Product Reviews Matters : Where Can Shoppers Find the Most Reviews?

Finally, let’s look at how many reviews are posted on both marketplaces. To the surprise of no one, Amazon top listings have a lot more reviews than Walmarts. Only 3 listings have over 200 reviews on Walmart, while most top listings have over 500 on Amazon. Even though there are more sponsored listings on Amazon, the sheer size difference between the marketplaces makes a huge difference in terms of reviews. 

It could also be due to the reviewing process being easier on Amazon than on Walmart. This shows that there may be an opportunity to get on Walmart “early” and not be at a huge disadvantage in terms of reviews.


While the data I presented is only about a niche product and may not be representative of the competitive environment, I found it interesting to compare the offers of Amazon and Walmart.

It is clear that Amazon has a lot more sponsored listings than Walmart, impacting the customer shopping experience (but Walmart could potentially catch up on that in the next couple of years). In terms of pricing, both marketplaces offered similar products and without more data, it is difficult to say that one is cheaper than the other. On the other hand, I believe the advantage Amazon has in terms of logistics is pretty clear, even though industry sources report major progress on Walmart’s side.

Ultimately, the impressive increase in ecommerce sales on Walmart.com is a signal that this channel, while still being much smaller than Amazon, should not be ignored.