Amazon vs. Walmart vs. Jet: Who Is the Cheapest

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Amazon has long wooed customers with an expansive selection, low prices, and free two-day shipping for Prime members. By all accounts it's a winning formula: The site accounted for a staggering 43 percent of U.S. retail sales last year, according to research firm Slice Intelligence.

But Walmart is making a major play for a slice of the Amazon pie, introducing free two-day shipping earlier this year on millions of items, no membership necessary. Last year, it paid more than $3 billion for Jet.com, which launched in 2015 with the express aim of nabbing some of Amazon's staggering revenue.

So, where should consumers be spending their e-commerce dollars: Amazon, Walmart, or Jet? Cheapism.com compared prices on 75 items across three areas -- household staples, health and beauty, and baby and pet -- to find out.

Amazon comes out on top.


Amazon was the winner in our price comparison, but not by as much as online shoppers might expect. Here are the highlights:

  • Amazon had the lowest prices overall, beating Walmart and Jet by a little over 5 percent across all three areas. The total tab was $813.39, compared with $859.26 and $859.47, respectively.
  • Amazon had the lowest total by far in health and beauty, $265.59. It beat both Walmart and Jet by about 12 percent.
  • Amazon was also cheapest in baby and pet, at $327.49. But the margins were slimmer: 2.3 percent over Walmart and 4.3 percent over Jet.
  • Jet squeaked out a win in household goods with a total of $219.51. Amazon was right on its heels at $220.31, while Walmart came in at $226.71, 3.3 percent higher than Jet.
  • Amazon had the lowest prices on 14 items. Walmart was cheapest on 12 items, and Jet was lowest on five.
  • Price matching is aggressive, particularly between Amazon and Walmart, which had the same prices on 22 products -- nearly a third of the list. All three retailers had the same price on 15 products.

While Amazon's 5 percent price edge may not seem like a huge margin, we looked at products most households will order several times throughout the year, making the savings more compelling. For instance, ordering the same health and beauty products through Amazon three times a year would add up to more than $90 in savings over Walmart and Jet -- not exactly chump change.

We didn't account for potential savings with Amazon's Subscribe & Save program, which drops prices anywhere from 5 to 15 percent for buyers willing to commit to a regular shipment. Worth it? Maybe, for products you'll reliably use, but be sure to keep an eye on Amazon's prices -- they fluctuate regularly, and subscribing does not lock them in.

Walmart.com offers a simpler shopping experience.

Related: 25 Best Finds at Walmart


Amazon may have edged out the competition in our price comparison, but there are three big reasons to shop on Walmart.com instead. First, buyers don't need to jump through as many hoops to place an order with free two-day shipping. Second, Walmart has thousands of bricks-and-mortar stores to support its e-commerce business. Finally, prices are still very low.

Walmart now offers free two-day shipping on about 2 million items. The only catch is that customers need to spend at least $35. Amazon recently lowered its free-shipping threshold to $25, but that's for standard shipping, which takes five to eight days. For free two-day shipping, you'd have to cough up $99 a year (or $10.99 a month) for a Prime membership. Also, many items we priced on Amazon are available only through Prime Pantry, which means non-Prime members can't buy them at all, and even Prime members have to select at least five pantry items to avoid a $5.99 shipping fee. Other Amazon offerings were "add-on items," which don't require a membership but are available for purchase only if your order totals at least $25.

Walmart offers the option of free pickup for many items that don't meet the $35 minimum for free shipping. Although this requires a trip to the store, shoppers can go straight to the pickup desk rather than navigate the aisles and wait in a checkout line. Some orders are available within four hours. Walmart customers can also return online purchases to a nearby store instead of paying for return shipping. Under Amazon's standard return policy, the cost of return shipping is deducted from your refund unless the return results from an Amazon error or the item qualifies for free returns.

Walmart and Amazon also aren't as far apart on price as they might appear at first glance. Once we removed four outlier products where one retailer's price was significantly higher or lower than the other two (for instance, Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips were $41.98 on Amazon versus $54.99 from Jet and $59.82 from Walmart), the gap between Amazon and Walmart narrowed to less than $4 across all three categories.

Jet.com is still worth checking.


Although it had the highest prices overall in our analysis, Jet still merits consideration. Without the four outlier products, it was only 3.1 percent more expensive than Amazon and 2.6 percent more than Walmart. It also offers free shipping for orders over $35 (often two-day, although occasionally standard shipping) without requiring any sort of membership. Jet sweetens the pot by dropping prices for customers who are willing to pay with a debit card, forgo free returns, buy in bulk, and buy certain items together.

Forgoing free returns and paying with a debit card -- an option on 28 out of the 75 products we compared -- halved Jet's original 5 percent price difference with Amazon. Forgoing free returns might not be a big deal on paper towels, but it would be riskier for purchases such as electronics or small appliances. And some people may not be comfortable using a debit card linked directly to a bank account for an online purchase.

If you go through a lot of a particular product, Jet's bulk discounts might be more compelling. For instance, an 81-count container of Tide Pods cost $19.63 in our comparison, but the price would have dropped to $19.20 each for two containers, or $18.67 for three. Jet customers can also stack the quantity discount with the price break for paying with debit and forgoing free returns. That would have made the Tide $19.45 to start and dropped the price to $19.03 each for two containers or $18.50 for three. Again, though, this option isn't always available, and sometimes Jet still can't beat its competitors. For instance, buying five 10-count packs of Ivory soap would have dropped the price from $4.29 to $4.14 each -- but the same item was still only $3.97 at Walmart.

Jet also offers harder-to-quantify discounts on items that can be packed and shipped together. For instance, buying Mr. Clean Magic Erasers together with Scotch-Brite sponges drops the price of each item a couple of pennies.

The bottom line: One size doesn't fit all.


Prices in our analysis were close enough to keep us from making a blanket recommendation, but here are a few takeaways:

  • Shop on Amazon if ... you're already a Prime member. And don't forget that Prime offers additional benefits, including access to Prime Video and Prime Music, unlimited photo storage, and even same-day delivery in some areas.
  • Shop on Walmart.com if ... you're thinking of joining Amazon Prime mainly for the fast shipping. As long as you spend $35 -- not a hard threshold to meet -- you can get free two-day shipping from Walmart without paying for a membership, and prices are neck-and-neck with Amazon.
  • Shop on Jet.com if ... you don't mind buying in higher quantities, paying with debit, and forgoing free returns. Still, the selection isn't quite as impressive, and some shoppers may prefer a more straightforward shopping experience.

PRICE COMPARISON*

HOUSEHOLD

 Product
Amazon
Jet
Walmart
Lowest Price
 Scotch-Brite Heavy Duty Scrub Sponges (6 ct.)
$5.48
$4.65
$5.48
Jet
 Windex Multi-Surface Vinegar Cleaner (23 oz.)
$3.12
$3.18
$3.12
Amazon, Walmart
 Palmolive Original (28 oz.)
$2.40
$2.50
$2.40
Amazon, Walmart
 Mr. Clean Magic Erasers Original (8 ct.)
$6.99
$6.99
$6.99
Tie
 Bounce Dryer Sheets (240 ct.)
$8.94
$9.30
$8.94
Amazon, Walmart
 Energizer Max Batteries (AA, 24 ct.)
$13.89
$13.89
$14.94
Amazon, Jet
 Liquid Plumr Professional Strength (80 oz.)
$7.70
$7.70
$7.33
Walmart
 Air Wick Freshmatic Refills (Fresh Waters, 2-pack)
$7.93
$8.25
$7.93
Amazon, Walmart
 Quilted Northern Ultra Plush (48 double rolls)
$23.94
$23.94
$23.94
Tie
 Tide Pods (81 ct.)
$21.30
$19.63
$19.97
Jet
 Glad Press 'N' Seal (70 sq. ft.)
$2.94
$3.09
$2.94
Amazon, Walmart
 Glad OdorShield Tall Kitchen Bags (110 ct.)
$12.41
$12.80
$17.32
Amazon
 Swiffer Wet Refills (24 ct.)
$7.99
$9.37
$7.97
Amazon, Walmart
 Cascade Complete ActionPacs (78 ct.)
$16.97
$16.91
$16.97
Jet
 Ziploc Sandwich Bags (90 ct.)
$2.98
$3.56
$2.98
Amazon, Walmart
 Bounty Paper Towels (6 big rolls)
$8.99
$8.96
$10.39
Jet
 Lysol Disinfecting Wipes (3 pack, 240 ct.)
$8.97
$9.42
$8.97
Amazon, Walmart
 Kleenex Ultra Soft Tissues (120 sheets, 3 ct.)
$4.74
$4.98
$4.74
Amazon, Walmart
 Swiffer Duster Refills (20 ct.)
$13.97
$13.97
$13.97
Tie
 Scrubbing Bubbles Toilet Cleaning Gel (2 ct.)
$6.88
$6.97
$6.88
Amazon, Walmart
 OxiClean (156 loads)
$11.99
$11.99
$12.48
Amazon, Jet
 Vanity Fair Napkins (400 ct.)
$8.16
$5.66
$8.16
Jet
 Reynolds Parchment Paper (45 sq. ft.)
$3.48
$3.65
$3.48
Amazon, Walmart
 Hefty Easy Grip Plastic Cups (50 ct., 18 oz.)
$3.65
$3.65
$3.48
Walmart
 Febreze Extra Strength Fabric Freshener (27 oz.)
$4.50
$4.50
$4.94
Amazon, Jet
 TOTAL
$220.31
$219.51
$226.71
Jet

HEALTH AND BEAUTY

 Product
Amazon
Jet
Walmart
Lowest Price
 Trojan ENZ Lubricated Condoms (36 ct.)
$13.97
$13.97
$13.97
Tie
 Neosporin Original (1 oz.)
$6.47
$6.47
$6.47
Tie
 One A Day Men's Multivitamins (200 ct.)
$14.62
$14.62
$13.92
Walmart
 Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen (3 oz.,  2 ct.)
$11.24
$13.97
$13.97
Amazon
 Chapstick Original (3 ct.)
$2.99
$3.09
$2.94
Walmart
 Olay Total Effects 7-in-1 Moisturizer (1.7 oz.)
$20.79
$21.92
$21.92
Amazon
 L'Oréal Paris Studio Line Mega Gel (6.8 oz.)
$3.97
$4.13
$3.97
Amazon, Walmart
 Zyrtec (70 ct.)
$24.25
$34.94
$34.94
Amazon
 Advil (100 ct.)
$7.97
$8.06
$7.97
Amazon, Walmart
 Biotrue Contact Solution (10 oz., 2 ct.)
$15.98
$15.98
$15.98
Tie
 Tampax Pearl (regular, 50 ct.)
$9.27
$9.27
$9.27
Tie
 Band-Aid Flexible Fabric (assorted, 100 ct.)
$5.85
$7.97
$6.20
Amazon
 Mint Listerine (1.5 L)
$4.99
$6.27
$5.97
Amazon
 Q-Tips (1,400 ct.)
$9.98
$9.99
$9.54
Walmart
 Degree Dry Protection (women's, 2.6 oz.)
$2.47
$2.61
$2.47
Amazon, Walmart
 Crest 3D White Professional Effects  Whitestrips
$41.98
$54.99
$59.82
Amazon
 Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Comfort Plus Floss  (2 ct.)
$4.97
$4.97
$4.97
Tie
 Colgate Total Whitening Toothpaste (6 oz., 2 ct.)
$4.96
$5.21
$4.96
Amazon, Walmart
 Pantene Pro-V Daily Moisture Renewal Shampoo  (25.4 oz.)
$6.99
$6.99
$6.77
Walmart
 Ivory Bar Soap (4 oz. bars, 10 ct.)
$4.29
$4.29
$3.97
Walmart
 Bic Silky Touch Razors (10 ct.)
$2.97
$2.97
$2.97
Tie
 Aveeno Active Naturals Daily Moisturizing Body  Wash (18 oz.)
$6.99
$7.42
$7.42
Amazon
 Softsoap Antibacterial Refill (white tea and berry, 56  oz.)
$4.88
$5.12
$4.88
Amazon, Walmart
 Purell Hand Sanitizer (67.6 oz.)
$17.78
$18.14
$17.28
Walmart
 Vicks Dayquil/Nyquil Severe Cold & Flu Co-Pack (12  oz., 2 ct.)
$14.97
$14.99
$14.97
Amazon, Walmart
 TOTAL
$265.59
$298.35
$297.51
Amazon

BABY AND PET

 Product
Amazon
Jet
Walmart
Lowest Price
 Pedigree Adult Complete Dog Food (40 lbs.)
$24.39
$27.25
$20.34
Walmart
 Purina Fancy Feast Cat Food (Classic Poultry and  Beef, 3 oz., 24 ct.)
$11.96
$13.23
$13.23
Amazon
 Meow Mix Original Choice (16 lbs.)
$10.99
$11.88
$11.88
Amazon
 Purina Tidy Cats Instant Action Clumping Litter (20  lbs.)
$7.98
$8.27
$7.88
Walmart
 Frontline Plus (small dogs, 3 doses)
$31.00
$31.00
$39.86
Amazon, Jet
 Milkbone Treats (medium dogs, 10 lbs.)
$10.98
$10.98
$10.98
Tie
 Temptations MixUps Cat Treats (Surfers' Delight, 16  oz.)
$7.99
$8.31
$7.98
Walmart
 Pampers Sensitive Wipes (576 ct.)
$14.39
$14.39
$14.64
Amazon, Jet
 Huggies Little Movers Diapers (size 4, 112 ct.)
$28.82
$32.99
$28.82
Amazon, Walmart
 Pull-Ups Learning Designs (2T/3T boys, 74  ct.)
$24.29
$24.29
$24.29
Tie
 Aquaphor (14 oz.)
$12.74
$14.97
$14.26
Amazon
 Enfamil Gentlease Infant Formula (32.2 oz.)
$36.99
$36.98
$36.98
Jet, Walmart
 Aveeno Baby Wash (18 oz.)
$6.74
$8.97
$8.97
Amazon
 Gerber 2nd Foods (bananas with apples and pears,  4 oz., 8 ct.)
$8.85
$9.33
$8.85
Amazon, Walmart
 Plum Organics Mighty 4  (cherry/strawberry/black  bean/spinach/oat, 4 oz., 6 ct.)
$10.74
$10.74
$10.74
Tie
 Nuk Airflow Orthodontic Paci (2-pack, 0-6  boy)
$5.05
$5.49
$5.05
Amazon, Walmart
 Munchkin Click Lock Flexi-Straw Cup
$5.52
$6.97
$5.87
Amazon
 Infant Tylenol (2 oz. oral suspension)
$8.77
$8.77
$8.77
Tie
 Playtex VentAire (6 oz. bottles, 3 ct.)
$6.86
$6.86
$6.86
Tie
 Playtex Drop-ins Liners (8 oz., 100 ct.)
$3.68
$3.83
$3.68
Amazon, Walmart
 Lansinoh Breast Milk Storage Bags (100 ct.)
$14.99
$11.33
$10.79
Walmart
 Playtex Diaper Genie Refills (720 ct.)
$16.87
$16.47
$16.47
Jet, Walmart
 All Baby Detergent (31 loads)
$4.99
$6.18
$5.94
Amazon
 Johnson's Baby Lotion (27 oz.)
$5.92
$5.92
$5.92
Tie
 Lansinoh Lanolin (1.41 oz.)
$5.99
$6.21
$5.99
Amazon, Walmart
 TOTAL
$327.49
$341.61
$335.04
Amazon

*Prices obtained May 30-31, 2017. Items are shipped from and sold by Amazon, Walmart, and Jet, not third-party sellers.