When it comes to online shopping, you have more options than ever before for making the experience a pleasant one. There are grocery delivery services, libraries of movies and TV shows available for streaming and free shipping is basically the e-commerce industry norm. For a long time, the only place to find all of those things in one place was Amazon via its Amazon Prime membership.
After years of that being the lone option, there is finally a competitor that aims to steal back some of the Prime market: Walmart. Walmart Plus is the new service (launched in 2020) from the retail behemoth that has many similar benefits as Prime, but, as you can imagine, there are some key differences. As we head into Prime Day, it's smart to understand the differences in case you are looking to make a switch.
Walmart has slowly built up its e-commerce wing over the past half-decade or so, to the point where it has an inventory that would rival Amazon, offering products both from Walmart directly and through its third-party seller network. Much like Amazon Prime, the Walmart Plus membership gives you free next day and two-day shipping on a huge selection of items from Walmart.com along with free grocery delivery from Walmart stores. What differentiates Walmart Plus from Prime is the focus on the in-person shopping experience and benefits.
Two of the biggest benefits that you cannot find with Amazon Prime are gas savings and mobile scan and go for in-store shopping. Wherever there is a Walmart or Murphy's gas station, Walmart Plus members get $.05 off per gallon, plus member pricing access at all Sam's Club fuel stations. Mobile Scan & Go is a feature within the Walmart app that allows in-person shoppers to move throughout the store and scan items as they're shopping then checkout at self-checkout without having to scan everything again. This saves a huge amount of time in the checkout queue and, if you ask us, might be worth it in itself. Walmart Plus also benefits pharmacy users — select prescriptions will be $0 and thousands of others can be purchased for up to 85 percent off.
Lack of a streaming service is a glaring difference. While Amazon offers a huge library of TV and film content alongside a native music service, Walmart is yet to dip its toes into the programming department and it's tough to envision them getting into original programming anytime soon. The retailer makes up for this with its ubiquity — there are over 5,000 Walmart locations in the US (3,500+ of which are Supercenters with groceries).
Walmart Plus costs $12.95/month or $98/year. If you pay by the year, you'd save $21 on Walmart Plus vs. Amazon Prime's yearly payment cost.
Being the lone one-stop-shop online service for years, Prime has gained a leg up in that it already has 147 million members in the US alone. Prime shipping used to be of the biggest draws to the service but it essentially set the standard and is rivaled by Walmart and lots of other retailers. That doesn't mean Prime shipping has lapsed, it's that others have caught up. Amazon Fresh is another huge benefit to Prime membership — you can find just about anything you need around the home through the Amazon Fresh hub, from meat, seafood, fresh vegetables and fruits to pantry items and household goods like cleaners and personal care items. Once you decide what you need and you spend at least $35 (or $50 in NYC), you get free two-hour delivery, straight to your door.
Prime members are also given a discount on many products at Whole Foods Market, which can be shopped online or in person. Free delivery from the grocery store is a huge plus — it saves you time, which is in some ways just as valuable as money. The catch is that you need to live near a Whole Foods, which outside of urban centers can be difficult to find — there are just over 500 locations in the US. Another note is that goods from Whole Foods do generally cost more than Walmart groceries, however, you will find a large selection of organic and health-conscious items that aren't always found at Walmart.
Where Amazon has really separated itself is with its online programming and music that is included with Prime. There are thousands of films and television shows available for free through Prime Video, including old favorites and a ton of excellent original content (a new $450 million Lord of the Rings series is on the way). You also gain access to Amazon Music, which is akin to Apple Music or Spotify. This investment in entertainment is probably the biggest benefit of Amazon Prime — it is just something we don't see Walmart ever being able to offer. Finally, now is a great time to say that Prime Day is coming up (June 21-22), the exclusive shopping holiday created by Amazon that gives its members the chance to get some of the biggest deals of the year. Although, in recent years Walmart has run similar closeout deals on the two days of Prime Day to rival it.
Amazon Prime costs $8.99/month for Prime Video only and $12.99/month or $119/year for full Amazon Prime access.
Ultimately, the biggest decision you're making here is one of convenience when it comes to shopping. They both offer the same quick fulfillment and shipping and both have a grocery delivery service that is ultra-convenient. Would you prefer a streamlined in-person shopping experience and gas discounts? Do you live near a Walmart (or two)? If so, Walmart Plus is a great play. If you love television and movies but also want to have two-day shipping on nearly everything, and maybe you live near a Whole Foods, Amazon Prime might be your better bet. As long as you pick the service that is right for you and your shopping habits, you can't go wrong.