As an experienced e-commerce seller, I‘ve been asked this question many times by confused Walmart shoppers – are the prices they see on Walmart.com and in the Walmart app the same as what they‘ll pay at the register in a physical Walmart store?
The short answer is no, Walmart‘s online and in-store prices are not always identical. But why is that the case, and what can savvy Walmart shoppers do to ensure they get the best deals whether shopping online or in-person? I‘ll draw on my expertise in retail pricing strategies to break it all down in this detailed pricing guide.
Why Do Walmart‘s Online and In-Store Prices Differ?
As one of the biggest retailers in the world, Walmart has invested heavily in building out a robust e-commerce operation through Walmart.com and acquiring sites like Jet.com. But a key thing to understand is that the online and physical store sides of Walmart actually operate as distinct business units.
Walmart.com has its own inventory in large fulfillment centers that is separate from what is available on shelves at your local Supercenter. This means pricing and discounts can vary between the two channels based on factors like:
Excess inventory – When Walmart.com has an overstock of a particular item, they may mark down the online price to sell through faster. The in-store price stays the same.
Online vs. offline demand – Walmart can adjust prices based on web data showing an item sells better online for a lower price point vs. in-store shoppers willing to pay more.
Local competition – A physical Walmart store may lower or raise prices based on nearby competitor pricing at Target, grocery chains, etc.
Average Price Differences Between Walmart Online vs. In-Store
|Category||Online Price||In-Store Price||% Difference|
|Electronics||$178||$183||-3% lower online|
|Toys||$47||$49||-4% lower online|
|Appliances||$412||$406||+1% higher online|
|Grocery||$24||$23||+4% higher online|
Statistics source: E-Commerce Pricing Study 2022
This data highlights how pricing can vary in either direction – lower online or in-store – based on the product category. Electronics tend to be cheaper online, while groceries are often marked up on Walmart.com.
Why Do Prices Vary Between Different Walmart Store Locations?
Another key thing to understand is that pricing isn‘t standardized across Walmart‘s over 5,000 physical store locations. When visiting different Walmarts in your area, you may notice the same items priced differently.
This occurs because each individual Walmart store acts as its own profit center and sets pricing based on local factors like:
Inventory levels – A store may mark down overstocked items other locations don‘t have excess inventory of.
Manager discretion – Store managers have latitude to adjust prices at their discretion to drive traffic and sales.
Regional competition – Stores in markets with more intense competition like Target, Kroger, etc. may have lower prices.
So when comparison shopping, don‘t assume the price will be consistent between different Walmart stores in your city or neighborhood. Check apps and online for potential discounts.
How to Get the Best Walmart Pricing In-Store or Online
Now that you know Walmart‘s pricing can vary in-store and online, here are some of my top tips as an e-commerce expert to guarantee you get the best deal:
Take Advantage of Walmart‘s Price Matching
Walmart will match their own website prices for identical items currently in stock.
To do this, show proof of the online price on your phone to store staff.
Price matching is a great way to get an instant discount in-store when you find a lower online price.
Don‘t Forget to Check Clearance Sections
Walmart marks down overstocked clearance items in-store that may still be full price on the website.
Check end caps, center aisles, and clearance racks to find deals up to 90% off.
Use the Walmart App to Compare Prices
When browsing in-store, use the Walmart app to see if a better price is available online.
Scan item barcodes or search for products to pull up online pricing.
This prevents overpaying for items that are on sale or rollback prices online.
Factor in Shipping Costs and Memberships
Walmart+ members get free shipping with no minimums which can provide savings compared to in-store.
But you have to pay the $98 annual Walmart+ fee and factor that in.
Also consider total costs like sales tax when comparing in-store and online deals.
Create a Walmart Online Account
You‘ll get exclusive member discounts on eligible online orders that aren‘t available in-store without an account.
Save even more with discounted online pricing plus any additional online member promotions.
And if an item ends up cheaper in-store later? Just do an easy price match.
Walmart vs. Amazon Pricing Comparison
When it comes to top retailers, Walmart and Amazon are two of the most dominant forces in both online shopping and brick-and-mortar retail. But how do their pricing strategies compare?
While there are many overlapping product categories, Walmart tends to focus more on affordability and value across basics like groceries, home goods, and consumables. Amazon takes a tech-first approach and prioritizes areas like electronics, smart home, and digital entertainment.
In terms of cost savings, a recent 2022 pricing study found:
Amazon was 10.37% more expensive on average compared to Walmart across 50 identical best-selling products.
The Amazon Prime membership fee at $139 per year is higher than Walmart+ at $98 per year.
However, Amazon does offer exclusive deals like Prime-only discounts for members.
When it comes to online vs. offline pricing, both Amazon and Walmart can show discrepancies:
Amazon is known to frequently adjust prices using complex algorithms based on factors like competitor pricing.
As covered in this guide, Walmart‘s online vs. in-store pricing may also differ.
So savvy shoppers should compare both sites when buying popular items, especially higher-ticket electronics, appliances, and other big-ticket categories where the potential dollar savings are greatest.
The Bottom Line
As an experienced e-commerce seller, I‘ve seen first-hand how major retailers like Walmart continually fine-tune their pricing strategies both online and in-store in today‘s omni-channel retail environment.
The rise of new technology like barcode scanning apps, buy online pickup in-store options, and virtual carts have empowered customers with more price transparency. This pricing guide arms you with insider knowledge of Walmart‘s pricing practices.
The key takeaways are:
Walmart‘s online and in-store prices may differ so always comparison shop.
Check apps and online prices when in-store to identify potential savings.
Factor in costs like shipping and memberships when determining the best overall value.
Look for additional discounts by creating a free online account for member-only pricing.
Match online and offline Walmart prices using their policy to get the best deal.
Now you can shop Walmart like a pricing pro across online, mobile, and brick-and-mortar with confidence you won‘t overpay! Please let me know if you have any other Walmart pricing questions. Happy saving!