Did you know Walmart has its own Amazon Prime Day? Late last month the retailer held its Walmart Plus Weekend sale, which was its first stab at creating a huge sales event for the members of its premium subscription service.
We covered this event here at TechRadar and found it a mixed bag. The savings were actually pretty good - with deals on everything from cheap laptops to household essentials - but overall interest felt lukewarm at best. Announced barely two weeks before the fact, and coming hot off the heels of the yearly Memorial Day sales, it felt like the brand faced an uphill battle to build awareness for its big day.
No one expected Walmart to hit a home run on its first attempt, however, and the advent of a rival sales event has us thinking about what this means for the upcoming Prime Day event. We're hoping Amazon comes out the gates hot this year - not just responding to increasing competition, but also as a response to the ongoing cost-of-living crisis. Budgets are tightening rapidly and the retailer even went so far as to publish a growth warning back in May (opens in new tab). If it's going to get back on track, Prime Day is going to be the ticket to do so. Will it be business as usual though? We think it's highly likely the retailer will look to shake things up this year.
The Walmart Plus Weekend - a rocky start?
Walmart's Prime Day rival Walmart Plus Weekend seemingly got off to a fairly modest start. A report from the retail analytics company Numerator (opens in new tab) has claimed that only 34% of Walmart shoppers actually knew about the retailer's event over the weekend. That's seemingly poor versus Prime Day's whopping 94% of awareness among members, but it's not surprising. After all, this is the first event of its kind at the retailer while Prime Day has had a whole 7 years to gain momentum.
Interestingly, of the people who did take part, overall satisfaction with the quality of deals was higher - with 39% of respondents being 'overwhelmingly satisfied' with Walmart's deals versus 27% for Amazon Prime Day in 2021. This is the biggest indication that if Walmart's event failed to make waves, it was due to awareness rather than the customer's reception to the deals.
There are some promising signs for the future of this event too. In the report, 27% of respondents claimed that the savings being offered over the Walmart Plus weekend were better than those over Prime Day. A quarter (25%) of respondents also claimed that a purchase made over the Walmart Plus weekend was a direct replacement of one at Amazon. This isn't exactly enough to eat Amazon's lunch, considering the disparity in the size of the events, but it should be enough for the retailer to sit up and notice.
From our coverage, we felt the Walmart Plus Weekend sale was decent but fairly unremarkable. Generally speaking, we spotted quite a few items that were offered at similar prices over the previous weekend's Memorial Day sales which always garners a bit of a 'meh' response from us. You can always expect a bit of copy and paste with these events but were hoping for better prices on in-demand tech like Apple Watches and iPads, both of which are ripe for record-lows right now.
The cost of living and this year's Prime Day
What the Walmart Plus Weekend did offer, however, was a ton of cheap laptops, small appliances, and some great TV deals - some of which were own-brand items. As always, these sat right next to other essentials like home goods and groceries, which apply for the free local delivery that you get as Walmart Plus member.
It's this free local delivery that's really driven Walmart Plus memberships over the past two years. It currently sits at 37 million subscribers to Prime's 152 million (source (opens in new tab)), which is rather impressive considering its relative youth compared to Amazon's subscription service. The Numerator report previously mentioned really highlights the difference between what people shop at the stores with 59% of shopping carts including groceries over Walmart Plus Weekend versus just 3% over Amazon Prime Day. Conversely, consumer electronics made up 31% of shopping card items at Amazon over Prime Day.
Amazon does of course offer Amazon Fresh - its own grocery service - but it's generally less widely available than Walmart due to the prevalence of the latter's stores nationwide. Given that Walmart Plus is growing so quickly, and that it now has its own 'special' weekend, its likely that Amazon could move further in this direction in the future.
That could be a particularly sensible move right now, with inflation putting a real squeeze on shoppers wallets. With the ongoing cost-of-living crisis in everyone's minds, Amazon (and many other retailers) will be looking to offer the basics as well as cheap consumer electronics. So far, Amazon Fresh is exclusive to the bigger cities but the retailer is opening new stores every month in a rapidly increasing number of locations.
What we want from Prime Day
- A focus on the cost-of-living crisis
- More Prime member benefits
- A few treats, here and there
So, what does TechRadar want from Amazon Prime Day this year? Well, firstly we'd like to see a focus on what we've already covered in this article - great deals that are aimed specifically at allowing Prime Members to beat out inflation. Since Amazon Fresh isn't available in many rural areas, it would be great to see Amazon play on its strength in cheap electronics to offer even better budget options for those looking to pick up a reliable laptop, TV, or even something as simple as a phone charger. You might not be able to add in some groceries if you live rurally, but ideally Amazon should be able to give you value in other areas.
We'd also like to see Amazon offer more value within its Prime membership eco-system - say by offering more shows, audiobooks, or streaming perks. Why not throw in more discounts for Audible? Or Music Unlimited, for that matter. Amazon often offers discounts or extended free trials for these services over Prime Day but those are often exclusive to new members. Giving existing members a monthly discount would be an awesome perk and one that's sure to have a knock-on effect for membership signups. It's also a handy saving in the context of how everyone has a rapidly expanding number of monthly subscriptions to manage these days.
Finally, we want some treats to offset the whole doom and gloom vibe right now. It doesn't have to be anything too fancy, but why not a section that's offering some cheap thrills for Amazon's big day? You may not be able to afford that new TV, but what about a decent sound bar? There could even be a "best deals for under $50" section - one that isn't completely filled with deals on Amazon's own devices, which is a well-beaten path for the retailer by this point.
These are the three main items on our wishlist for this year's Amazon Prime Day, but generally speaking, we're just hoping the retailer goes big this year with some real headline deals to check out. As with its Black Friday sale, Amazon has generally gotten into a familiar groove with its Prime Day event over recent years, so it would be fantastic to see some changes to help out those wallets in-need right now.