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Is Walmart+ the next Amazon? 5 Findings about online shopping in the age of COVID

Is Walmart+ the next Amazon? 5 Findings about online shopping in the age of COVID

First there was Netflix, then Hulu, then Peacock and Disney+. Is online shopping going to be the next thing you’ll be juggling subscriptions for? 

Amazon Prime was launched in 2005, but few major retailers have introduced a similarly successful service. But that could be changing soon: Walmart recently announced plans for Walmart+—a membership program that looks like it’ll be very similar to Amazon Prime. 

Because of the pandemic, Walmart+ will be launching in a very different America than it might have otherwise, but the outcome might end up being better for the company. Online shopping is one of the limited outlets that people have for fun, and it’s a safer alternative than shopping in-store. 

Using SurveyMonkey Audience, we surveyed 2,712 people about their shopping habits in the era of coronavirus to see how consumers are spending their time (and money) and whether these online shopping subscriptions could be here to stay. Here are the top 10 things that we learned.

  1. Since the start of the pandemic, people are spending less money overall. According to our research, Nearly half (47%) of people have been spending less overall since the start of the pandemic; 36% are spending about the same as before, and just 17% are spending more.
    No surprises here—without trips to take or restaurants to eat out at for months at a time, there’s less opportunity to spend on experiences. On top of that, there’s also some economic uncertainty—ApartmentList research recently found that ~33% of people are struggling to pay rent on time.
  2. Online shopping is the exception. If you’re wondering whether this economic uncertainty might put a damper on Walmart’s plans, the answer is probably “no”: 40% of households have been spending more on online shopping since the start of the pandemic, 33% are spending roughly the same amount, and only 25% are spending less.
  3. It’s also changed from a luxury to a necessity. 67% of people say online shopping has been essential for their household during the coronavirus pandemic, with brick and mortar stores being less safe and less likely to be open.
  4. Amazon is still king. Among Amazon Prime households, 47% have increased their online shopping since the start of the pandemic—among households that don’t use Amazon, this number is just 16%. Of course, Amazon is almost simultaneous with ecommerce, so this is to be expected.
  5. But Walmart is already a solid number 2. 36% of people have ordered online from Walmart during the pandemic. Though it is a distant second to Amazon, Walmart has a clear lead over Target (21%), Home Depot (17%), eBay (16%), Best Buy (11%), and Apple (8%).  In fact, 27% of people say they are likely to subscribe to Walmart’s upcoming subscription service.

It's still too early to say whether online shopping memberships will be as pervasive as streaming ones, but in the midst of a pandemic, they certainly make a lot of sense.