Profitero: Amazon leads online price war in non-consumables, a close second

by Kim Souza ([email protected]) 1,003 views 

The notion that Amazon’s prices are higher than competitors like Walmart U.S. isn’t true, at least for 52,000 non-food items recently checked by e-commerce marketing and analytics firm Profitero.

Keith Anderson, chief strategy officer at Profitero, said the “price war is on and while Amazon might be leading the pack, it’s clear Walmart is also on the offensive.”

The Profitero report looked at more than 52,000 products across 13 categories to illuminate the competitive price gaps between Amazon, Walmart, and Target. The survey looked at only identical products that were in-stock and packaged the same. The survey was conducted during June, July and August and compared daily prices which were averaged over the full period for comparison. The survey looked at baby, vitamins, video games, toys & games, tools & home improvement, sports & outdoors, office supplies, electronic, music, furniture, baby and appliances. He said Profitero plans another survey with everyday essentials like grocery products and household suppliers.

Anderson said the research confirms Amazon’s prices typically beat other retailers. Amazon was on average 11% less expensive across all categories included in this study. Wal-Mart’s prices were 2.9% higher than Amazon’s. In the beauty category Wal-Mart’s prices beat Amazon’s by 1% and it was close in the categories of baby, outdoor and sports.

Profitero found non-food prices at were 2.9% higher than the same items at Amazon. Target was 16.9% higher on average than Amazon for the same item, while Jet prices averaged 12.3% more expensive across all categories surveyed.

In the baby category, Amazon had the lowest prices but Wal-Mart was just 1% more expensive. Target prices were 12% on the exact same items, and Jet was 14% more expensive.

Electronics, another popular online category, showed Wal-Mart prices 7% higher than Amazon, while Jet was 9% more and Target was a whopping 17% pricier than Amazon. In the furniture category Amazon was 2% cheaper than Wal-Mart, 12% less expensive than Jet and a 22% bargain over Target.

Pet supplies are also a growing online category that Amazon is winning with low prices. Wal-Mart was 2% higher, Jet was 16% more and Target cost 19% for the same items. In sports & outdoors Wal-Mart was a close second with prices just 0.4% more than Amazon, but Target and Jet were 9% and 14% more expensive, respectively.

In Profitero’s 2014 price survey, prices were found to be 9% higher than Amazon’s on average, an indication the retail giant is narrowing the gap. Specifically in the beauty category was 14% more expensive than Amazon in 2014, compared to 1% cheaper in the 2017 report. There were 29,859 exact product matches evaluated in the recent study. He said was the closest competitor to Amazon in price is all 13 categories examined.

He said Target is losing its competitiveness in some categories since 2014. For instance in 2014, Target was 10% more expensive than Amazon on average. Today, that gap has widened to 17% across 15,592 exact products.

The Profitero study also found Jet prices have risen since 2015 when it found Jet to be have the lowest prices in seven categories. In the recent study Jet prices were 12.3% more expensive across 35,509 exactly matched products at Amazon. This made Jet the second most expensive retailer in the report. Profitero noted the Jet results exclude Smart Cart discounts.

Profiero also looked at specialty retailers such as Best Buy and Home Depot against Amazon prices. In appliances, Best Buy was 16.7% more expensive than Amazon. Toys R Us was 16.9% more expensive than Amazon in the baby category. Walgreen’s and CVS were 42% more expensive on average for beauty products than Amazon. Walmart was the only retailer to beat Amazon in beauty prices.

Best Buy was 12.4% more expensive on average than Amazon in the electronics category. was 22% more expensive and was 38.5% more costly. Profitero found Best Buy was 24.9% more expensive on music/CD’s than Amazon, while Barnes & Noble was 27.2% pricier., a pet specialty retailer, was 6.9% more expensive than Amazon. Dick’s Sporting Goods was also 23.5% more costly on average for sporting goods than Amazon. In tools & home improvement Amazon was 10.2% cheaper than Home Depot. Video games were also a lot less expensive at Amazon as was 11.7% higher and Best Buy prices averaged 26.6% more than Amazon.