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Head to Head (to Head): Walmart vs Best Buy vs Amazon 2020

This article was originally published on February 12, 2018. It has been updated to reflect current market trends. You can read the original article here.

It’s time for a good, old-fashioned show-down! We decided to examine how Walmart, Amazon, and Best Buy compare with one another in three competitive categories: Consumer Electronics, Small Kitchen Appliances, and Cell Phones. We will look at both total and online-only sales within each category, as online options have become an increasingly important component for shopping due to the ongoing pandemic.

Consumer Electronics:

Encompassing everything from laptops and e-readers to video game systems and wi-fi routers, American consumers spend an average of $400 per product in the 4 quarters ending September 2020. Here, we break down how consumers shopped at these three retailers.

The Winner:

In unit share, Walmart has pulled ahead of its competitors. The retailer currently wins almost 32 percent of unit share in Q3 of 2020 (source: TraQline Consumer Electronics Q3 2020). In fact, Walmart has seen significant growth for the last 4 years. Best Buy takes second place with just under 24 percent of the unit share and Amazon is third with 11 percent. In terms of dollar share, Best Buy and Walmart’s positions are reversed. Best Buy takes home 32 percent of consumer dollars as compared to Walmart’s 25 percent. Amazon takes home almost 10 percent of total consumer dollars.

The Online Winner:

Online, consumers spend an average of $393 per product. Once brick-and-mortar purchases are filtered out, Amazon is victorious. In the 4 quarters ending September 2020, The Everything Store took home 30 percent of the Consumer Electronics unit share, compared to Best Buy’s 21 percent and Walmart’s 19 percent. However, Amazon’s unit share has seen a significant decline in three of the last 4 quarters—Best Buy’s online unit share significantly rose those same quarters. Some of this may be due to an overall increase in online shopping across all retailers in response to COVID-19.

Small Kitchen Appliances:

In the 4 quarters ending September 2020, consumers spent an average of $63 on Small Kitchen Appliances like coffee makers, blenders, toaster ovens, etc. Here’s how Amazon, Best Buy, and Walmart stack up when consumers go shopping for Small Kitchen Appliances:

The Winner:

With just under 36 percent of the Small Kitchen Appliance unit share, Walmart is the clear winner. However, Amazon is gaining ground with 5 consecutive quarters of significant growth. In 2020, Amazon wins nearly 18 percent of unit share. Best Buy trails behind the other two retailers, winning 2 percent of share. In terms of dollar share, Walmart is still leading the way, with Amazon and Best Buy behind.

The Online Winner:

Online shoppers spend an average of $78 on Small Kitchen Appliances. Amazon dominates online sales of Small Kitchen Appliances. In the 4 quarters ending September 2020, the e-commerce behemoth took home almost half (48 percent) of the online unit sales of Small Kitchen Appliances (source: TraQline). Walmart comes in a distant second with just over 12 percent of online unit share. Best Buy’s online-only shares are comparable to its overall unit shares—winning just over 2 percent. This same pattern holds true in dollar shares.

Cell Phones:

The average price paid for Cell Phones, whether through a carrier or from a retailer or manufacturer, is $410. The majority of American consumers purchase Cell Phones directly from mobile carriers rather than from other outlets. That being said, Walmart, Best Buy, and Amazon all rank in the top 10 outlets for Cell Phone Purchases.

The Winner:

In terms of unit share, Walmart edges out the competition with just over 9 percent of share in 2020 (source: TraQline). Best Buy comes in a few places behind with 5 percent of share, and Amazon’s 4 percent unit share places them in third. In terms of dollar share, Best Buy brings home almost 7 percent of consumer dollars, while Walmart and Amazon trail behind with almost 4 percent and 3 percent dollar share respectively.

The Online Winner:

When shopping online for Cell Phones, consumers spend an average of $400. Once brick and mortar sales are filtered out, Amazon becomes the clear leader between the three retailers. They take home almost 13 percent of the online unit share, and almost 10 percent of dollar share. Walmart and Best Buy trail behind, taking home almost 5 and 4 percent of the online unit share, respectively.

The Champion(s):

In all three categories—Consumer Electronics, Small Kitchen Appliances, and Cell Phones—Walmart wins the top prize in taking home unit share. Despite this Best Buy gives Walmart a good run for its money and frequently outdoes its rival in terms of dollar share. For example, the average price paid for Consumer Electronics is $200 higher at Best Buy than it is at Walmart (source: TraQline). While a different category mix might tell a different story, it is clear that each retailer has its strengths.

Online, it is still Amazon’s game. The e-tailer comes out on top in all three categories. However, 2020 has seen a rapid shift in consumers embracing online shopping. Retailers with responsive sites and product on hand will have an advantage. We can already see how that is shifting the need in the gains that Best Buy and Walmart have made, especially in Consumer Electronics sales.

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TraQline's Dave Stevenson, PH.D President & CEO
Dave Stevenson, PH.D
President & CEO

Before launching The Stevenson Company in 1995, President and CEO Dave Stevenson managed worldwide research for product development, distribution, advertising, and customer satisfaction. His roles, first as head of the marketing section of General Motors’ worldwide product planning group, and later as director of GE Appliances’ global economics and market research team, give him extensive experience in consumer as well as business to business marketing solutions. Mr. Stevenson holds a Ph.D. in statistics from Southern Methodist University.