Does Walmart have a shot against Amazon?

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While Walmart's product selection is growing fast, it still pales in comparison to Amazon.

Walmart is putting in quite an effort to try and keep up with Amazon. The big-box retailer has committed to enhancing its online store and recently announced an expansion of its in-store digital pickup towers around the country.  

Still, it seems that Walmart still has a long way to go if it’s going to stack up to Amazon’s online impression. 

According to data from Jumpshot, a marketing analytics firm, of male shoppers between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, 10.9% prefer Walmart and 15.7% prefer to shop at Amazon. 

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Overall, when it comes to apparel shopping on both e-commerce sites, 17.5% of those surveyed buy clothing on Amazon and 13.7% buy on Walmart.com. However, Amazon’s overall conversion rate is significantly higher at 25.6%, versus Walmart.com’s 3%.

Women outnumber men when it comes to a preference for Walmart versus Amazon, as 77% of all clothing purchases made on Walmart.com were made by women. However, of the purchases being made by women on both sites, 22.4% of Amazon’s female consumers buy apparel when shopping the site, while only 17% of Walmart.com’s female consumers are buying apparel.

Why are the numbers of men purchasing apparel on Walmart.com so much lower? 

The behavior seems to be dependent on brands available, according to Randy Antin, VP of marketing at Jumpshot. Men are more likely to buy brands they recognize and are available, and while big brands such as Levi's and Dockers are easy to find on Amazon, Walmart tends to sell more house brands. 

Randy Antin

"Amazon has made it a point to create a storefront for their partner brands, whereas Walmart is still dependent on Walmart to be the brand," Antin told FierceRetail. "So instead of buying a pair of Adidas shoes on Walmart, men are choosing to buy from the Adidas store on Amazon. This is a subtle difference, but the impact is obvious." 

And while Walmart's product selection is growing fast, especially with their recent purchases of Jet, Modcloth and Bonobos, it still pales in comparison to Amazon.

In addition, Amazon's conversion rate is much higher than Walmart.com's because the giant marketplace has mastered the art of online conversion. 

"Amazon has always been stellar at converting them. Walmart is making in-roads, showing an almost 50% increase in conversion rate in June compared to January, but the overall number is so far behind Amazon that they need to do a lot more work to get people in the top of the funnel to convert in similar numbers," Antin said. 

But Walmart is definitely fighting back. The company is in a mass test-mode to see what works with customers and is quickly learning how to better convert customers, especially in fashion. Still, Walmart needs to improve their third-party marketplace with large brands. And Antin notes that it isn't enough to just sell products from a brand, but Walmart needs to offer an enjoyable consumer experience. 

So what does the future hold for Walmart versus Amazon?

"This battle is going to be brutal, big and happening on many fronts," Antin said. "I expect both companies will continue to expand in all areas, from clothing to grocery to supply chain to restaurants to point-of-sale systems. The end goal is going to be to own the entire customer experience from online to in-store to delivery to home. Amazon has the lead in so many areas right now and they’re continuing to build out the infrastructure to deliver a world-class customer experience."

"But don’t count out Walmart. A company with the brick-and-mortar footprint of theirs, the customer base, and the product supply relationships that they have—they really are in the best position to take on Amazon."