Over the past decade, competition between online retailers has been fiercer than ever. Exciting new companies have entered the industry with innovative approaches to the consumer shopping experience. In contrast, existing market-leaders have had to adapt or die to meet the needs of modern customers.
As of 2020, there are three clear front-runners for the title of the best shopping website. Amazon is a worthy contender, not least due to its massive 40% market share within the realm of e-commerce; Target is a firm customer favorite that’s been making significant strides in the online marketplace; and Walmart’s e-sales have soared by over 200% in the past few years, adapting fifty years of supermarket excellence to modern consumers’ needs.
Below, we’ve taken a closer look at the websites of Amazon, Target, and Walmart, to uncover who truly deserves the online superstore crown.
When it comes to product range, it’s essential to consider both size and quality. All three contenders are known for covering almost every category, including groceries, clothing and household goods, cosmetics and personal care items, electronics and media, auto products, and DIY supplies.
In terms of inventory size, Target falls behind Walmart and Amazon, but they do have a good reputation when it comes to value for money. Roughly a third of Target’s range consists of name brand products. While the majority of these are of decent quality, a smaller selection of branded lines can alienate some shoppers who prefer to go with tried and tested names.
Amazon is the winner if we only consider the size of their offering – if you include Marketplace sellers, you can find over 350 million items at Amazon.com, a truly mind-boggling number. This can be a bonus if you’re looking for a more specific item; however, the vast amount of independent sellers – around 200,000 to date – means quality and service can be inconsistent. Amazon does work hard to moderate the Marketplace, but more often than not, you’ll find you have to rely on the reviews of others before making a purchasing decision.
In terms of range, Walmart can be seen as having the best of both worlds when compared to Amazon and Target. Walmart.com stocks around 25 million products, and while this may seem small compared to Amazon, it’s still a massive selection. It’s also important to note that these aren’t from independent sellers, so you can trust that every single item has been vetted and pre-approved by Walmart. While Walmart.com still stocks a great selection of own-brand products, they feature far more branded items than Target, which means you can still find all the names you know and love.
DEALS & VALUE
Almost every store offers exclusive deals and discounts to help customers save money and keep them coming back, and these three retailers are no different. However, who is most likely to save you money in the long run?
While there are some extremely low prices to be found on Amazon.com, the majority of these are from independent sellers competing with each other. In some cases, the trade-off for low-cost items is that they’re sourced from overseas suppliers where they undergo less stringent quality assurance testing, and you could end up with a defective product. Amazon.com does feature regular deals on a wide range of items, but they tend to rely on “lightning deals” – short term offers that rely on impulse purchases.
Out of each product category we looked at, the only one where Target came out cheapest was by a small margin on food and drink. They offer regular daily deals and sales events, although you won’t guarantee low prices all the time. Target.com does feature a separate page for clearance items to help you find discounted products; however, most of these items are only a few dollars cheaper than their regular retail price.
Like Target, Walmart.com has a dedicated page for discounted items – Savings Spotlight – but we found it to have a much more significant range of products, as well as more substantial discounts. What’s more impressive is that Walmart aims to negate the need for sales events by making the majority of its products as cheap as they would be if they were on special offer. Their Everyday Low Price strategy has been a key pricing approach for years now, and it means customers can enjoy rock bottom prices all year round. That being said, you’ll still find one-off deals with up to 75% off some products.
All three retailers offer lots of great value delivery options with speedy shipping times. Amazon.com offers free standard delivery on millions of products when you spend $25 or more, but this doesn’t necessarily include Marketplace items, which can take several weeks. For next-day delivery (and Amazon’s streaming service), you can sign up to Amazon Prime for $12.99 per month, but it might not be the best value for money if you don’t order very frequently.
Target and Walmart both offer free shipping on orders over $35, including two-day shipping where available, although Walmart will deliver some items next-day at no extra cost. Target is the only retailer that offers an impressive same-day service; however, it comes with a $99 annual fee, which, like Amazon Prime, is only worth it if you shop frequently.
Each site clearly has its own unique benefits for customers; however, we believe that the best retailer should be the one that provides the most consistent quality and value for money for as many people as possible. Bearing that in mind, it’s evident that Walmart.com is the best shopping site of 2020, and with signs of enormous growth within the e-commerce industry, it appears that it will be holding the crown for a while.