Chris "Coz" Costello, Senior Director of Marketing Research @ Kenshoo
Walmart is the number one U.S. retailer overall with 90 percent of America shopping at its stores and website every year and nearly 160 million U.S. visitors every week. The real opportunity in retail today is with ecommerce and Walmart has been upping its investment in this channel with online sales growing 40% in 2018.
Last week’s formal announcement to launch ecommerce marketplace ads will enable brand partners to run ads on Walmart properties via a bidding auction-based marketplace much like Amazon Advertising. Although Amazon’s ad channel was on track to generate $11 billion+ in revenue last year, the true value of this kind of program is that it gives control to brands to leverage rich customer data and stimulate sales.
For retail brands that have benefited by investing heavily in Amazon’s Advertising—or ramped up slowly while competitors profited—Walmart’s self-service program offers a new partner in the emerging ecommerce marketplace ads channel. It also offers an omnichannel advertising solution at scale with both digital and physical locations. With Walmart’s massive offline-to-online consumer reach and Amazon’s strong online presence, marketers will likely see both Amazon and Walmart as crucial pieces to the puzzle in the future of retail.
Kenshoo, one of Walmart Advertising’s API launch partners, took a closer look at how more than one thousand consumers engage with and perceive Walmart’s digital experience. With its giant offline store footprint and already substantial online presence, our survey shows that consumers consider Walmart a key online shopping destination.
Note – the following insights are derived from an online survey of 1,026 adult Internet shoppers in the United States over a three day period just before the Christmas holiday.
Across all respondents in the survey, 26 percent reported that they had bought something on Walmart.com or via the Walmart app in the last six months, while another 16 percent had at least visited or browsed. With a total of 42 percent of respondents, that makes Walmart the second-most popular online shopping destination in our survey behind Amazon.
One obvious next question is, are Walmart.com and Amazon.com reaching similar or different shoppers? What is the overlap between the two?
Of respondents who bought or shopped at Amazon in the last six months, over two-thirds (70%) also bought or shopped at Walmart.com or with the Walmart mobile app. And just over 3 out of 4 (77%) of respondents who bought or shopped at Walmart.com or with the Walmart mobile app also bought or shopped on Amazon in the last six months.And when it comes to purchasing something from Walmart.com or the Walmart mobile app in the next six months, 47% of all respondents said they were either somewhat, very or extremely likely to do so.
The survey results have already revealed similarities across shoppers, but what are they shopping for? We asked all respondents if they thought the two retailers were similar or different in terms of product availability as well as which product categories they would shop for on those sites. Nearly half said they did not know. But of the other half, two-thirds said the two sites were somewhat or very similar in terms of product offerings.
At the category level, Walmart indexes higher on consumables like food and grocery or alcoholic beverages, while Amazon performed better with Books, Music, Movies & Games, and a handful of other categories.
Key categories like Health & Beauty, Toys, and Fashion & Clothing saw virtually no difference between the two online giants.
Finally, we asked respondents which online non-shopping sites they used to help inform their shopping purchases, both online or offline, in the last six months. Google scored highest here at just about one-third of respondents, with Facebook in second place. Of the remaining options, Pinterest and Instagram rounded out the top four.
While ecommerce marketplace ad channels such as Walmart’s program are able to reach shoppers while they are in an online store, brands can maximize sales if they can help drive consumers to these destinations. Search engines and social media offer the reach, scale, and targeted ad programs to get people to Walmart.com where they can be converted into customers.
With Walmart.com the second most popular online shopping destination and offering some differences to Amazon.com, brands that have relied on Walmart for decades to sell their products via its 11,000+ physical stores should benefit from its widening Internet footprint. Retail brands that were slow to adopt Amazon Advertising and let competitors beat them to the punch may consider ramping up their Walmart ad investment quickly.
And there’s a good reason to get started now. As with any new auction-based advertising program, the costs will typically rise over time as more brands get on board. Ad prices will likely be at their lowest at the start so any marketers that recognize the value here may want to jump in with both feet to take advantage of the opportunity before price pressure drives costs up.
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