(NASDAQ:AMZN) and Walmart (NYSE:WMT) have been in an arms race to win over customers. Each wants to crowd out the other to gain market share, and both have been pulling out all the stops.

What was once a baseline of two-day shipping has moved to one-day, with same-day becoming a bigger part of the plan for both companies. It's a competition that has been good for consumers, giving them a strong choice to make.

You don't, of course, have to pick one company over the other. But when it comes to paying for Prime, it may be smart not to do that. Walmart does not have the same digital selection as Amazon, but it probably has what you need. Here are three reasons to make that choice.

A Walmart in-store pickup kiosk.

Walmart has increased its in-store pick and return options. Image source: Getty Images.

1. You don't want to pay a membership fee

Amazon charges $119 a year, or $12.99 a month, with the main benefit being free two-day shipping (which is slowly becoming free one-day shipping). Prime has included a robust video service and a lot of other perks, but many customers likely join for the free shipping.

Walmart offers free two-day shipping (to eventually become one-day) on a few million items for orders over $35. If you regularly order enough to meet that threshold, it may make sense to not pay for Prime.


Walmart allows customers to buy online and pick up in-store (BOPIS) and to buy online and return in-store (BORIS). Amazon does take returns at its Whole Foods locations and through its partnership with Kohl's, but there are far fewer of those locations than Walmart has. Amazon also has more limited BOPIS options at Whole Foods and through pickup point locations.

3. You like to see what you buy

Walmart has a massive brick-and-mortar footprint. Amazon has Whole Foods and a smattering of physical store locations. Customers can walk around a Walmart, put their hands on various items, and then order them for home delivery.

That's something many people want to do when it comes to bigger-ticket items like electronics. If you want to buy a TV from Walmart, you can go see exactly how big it is and what the picture looks like. You can't do that in most cases as a Prime member.

It may not be worth $119 for Prime

If you place small orders frequently and want a near-unlimited selection, then Prime may be worth the money. For those willing to place bigger orders and who have some flexibility on exactly what they buy, then it may make sense to go with Walmart.

The real question to ask yourself is "How hard would it be to not be able to just order on a whim?" If that's not a big deal for you -- and you may enjoy the advantages of dealing with a company with an extensive brick-and-mortar presence -- then it's worth skipping Prime and giving Walmart a try.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.