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Kantar Retail’s third annual Retail Annual Basket Pricing Study has found that Walmart.com leads on price against both Amazon.com and a Walmart Supercenter. While in the past, the mega-retailer's Supercenter has dominated from a price-point perspective, this year's findings revealed a shift to more alignment between Walmart.com and the Supercenter, with the website's aggressive general merchandise pricing the most competitive overall across the three venues.
"From a brick-and-mortar standpoint, Walmart has long held a reputation as a price leader," says Anne Zybowski, VP with Boston-based Kantar Retail and a contributor to the study. "While Walmart looks to offer consistently low prices across channels, it is also contending with the dynamic pricing realities online retail entails."
She added: "Amazon, in contrast, has built its mission around the customer, seeking to be competitive on price, yet win through its vast assortment and focus on convenience. As shoppers increasingly incorporate digital and e-commerce into their purchase decisions, retailers are adopting more nuanced approaches that go beyond low price."
Among the study’s findings:
- The Supercenter's basket was 5 percent more expensive than the Walmart.com basket. While the gap between their baskets is narrower this year, the advantage for Walmart.com is a reverse from last year's study, when the Supercenter was 7 percent cheaper.
- Amazon's basket was 12 percent more expensive than the Supercenter’s and 17 percent more expensive than Walmart.com's. Amazon’s baskets were most expensive in three out of four sub-baskets, among them edible grocery, where the retailer was 37 percent more expensive than both Walmart and Walmart.com.
- Third-party (3P) items, especially in the edible and nonedible baskets, drove Amazon's more expensive overall basket.
"The results of this year's study are not entirely unexpected," observed Zybowski. "Amazon continues to hone its prices in the face of increased cross-channel and online competition, while Walmart evolves its alignment between its store and online positions."
The study was conducted in August 2014 during the high-traffic back-to-school season to capture results from a period when the retailers would be especially vying for position. Pricing information was collected over a 12-hour period on a single day. This year's basket was adjusted to account for changes in SKUs offered over the past year and to expand the study's depth and breadth. The basket consisted of 53 nationally branded items in four categories: edible grocery, nonedible grocery, HBA and general merchandise, with only items that were available at all three venues included.