Here’s Why You Might Want to Go to Walmart Instead of Ordering Online

exterior of walmart in st petersburg, fla.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

Did Walmart quietly increase its online prices to encourage you to shop in its stores instead?

Not really. The mega-retailer is just giving you more shopping options and explaining the costs of each.

A whole boatload of Walmart items now show an online price and an in-store price. You can get the cheaper in-store price by ordering the item and picking it up, or by wandering into the store and grabbing the item off the shelf.

“It simply costs less to sell some items in stores,” a Walmart spokesperson said, also noting, “We always work to offer the best price online relative to other sites.”

Although many of Walmart’s products now show multiple ways to buy them — and the prices  for each method — it’s one of the easier online browsing experiences this reporter has seen in some time.

 

Instead of wondering what the total will be on a separate checkout page, Walmart’s listings provide estimated taxes and your shipping cost in an easy-to-read right-hand column.

Since Walmart knows most Americans live within 10 miles of one of its stores, the new purchasing option adds a layer of decision-making for its customers. Do you need this item delivered to your door, or could you run out later today and pick it up for a lower price?

Walmart Keeps Tweaking Its Pricing

The online price vs. in-store price option is an extension of its Pickup Discount program that it introduced in spring 2017.

Walmart initially offered the Pickup Discount on 10,000 items that weren’t available in stores. Customers could save by ordering that item, having it shipped to a nearby Walmart store and picking it up there.

That program launched shortly after Walmart shut down its ShippingPass program, which charged $49 per year for free shipping. Instead, Walmart now offers free two-day shipping on orders of $35 or more.

It’s no secret that shipping is one area where online retailers still struggle to reduce costs. As consumers are faced with plenty of online shopping options, they’ve also come to expect quick, cheap shipping.

But even the big guys like Amazon have partnered with brick-and-mortar locations to make order pickup and returns easier while reducing last-mile delivery costs.

Walmart has also ended its price-match program in many areas of the country, opting instead for consistently lower prices on some of its most popular items.

Lisa Rowan is a senior writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder.

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