Selling on Walmart: what e-commerce businesses need to know

Selling on Walmart: what e-commerce businesses need to know

Walmart has been a household name in the U.S. since its founding in 1962. Today it has roughly 11,695 stores in 28 countries and e-commerce websites in 11 countries—and its marketplace, which offers third-party sellers a presence on its platform, is quickly catching up to Amazon and eBay. 

Interested in getting your products in front of a huge audience? Here’s what you need to know about selling on Walmart.

Who’s eligible?

When Walmart launched its e-commerce marketplace in 2009, it had stringent restrictions and an invitation-only policy to ensure that sellers met its high standard. Now, while some restrictions are still in place, online sellers can apply to join the site if they have the following qualities:

  • First-class customer service
  • A unique product assortment
  • Competitive pricing
  • Fast and reliable fulfillment

Similar to the experience required to apply for a senior role in a company, Walmart expects to see proof of prior “marketplace experience” from all potential third-party sellers, such as their seller history on Amazon or eBay.

It’s working taking a take a look at the top product categories sold on Walmart.com and ask yourself if your e-commerce business fits into that. In 2017, everything from school supplies to soft toys were among the marketplace’s best-selling products.

How to apply?

One of the biggest draws to Walmart marketplace is that it’s super exclusive. In order to sell on Walmart.com, you must first fill out an application and wait to be granted access.

Online sellers are expected to fill out some basic personal and company-related details and provide information about their product assortment. One thing to remember is that Walmart reviews how up-to-date your products are, whether they’re on trend or if they’ve had their day.

Skubana points out how crucial your past experience as an independent seller is, as well as your performance history with other marketplaces such as Amazon.

The final section of the application is the Operations section where you’ll fill out details about your shipping operations, warehouse location and the average amount of time it takes to fulfill your orders.

If accepted, you’ll receive an email with a unique link to start setting up.

Why Walmart.com?

Pros

Established name

Walmart has 110 million unique visitors per month which is a great base for any seller to start with. If you decide to launch an account, search volume to generate sales would not be a concern.

Less competition

As a result of Walmart being late to the online marketplace game, not to mention its application process, there are fewer online sellers on it. Although this might seem like a drawback, it makes it a less competitive environment for e-commerce businesses than it would be on Amazon and eBay.

Features

There are no setup, subscription or monthly fees, no listing or category limitations and online sellers will have access to unlimited features. 

Pathway to the Buy Box

There’s a very clear-cut way to get the Buy Box on Walmart.com. The main focus is on product quantity availability and price, plus the lowest shipping. Amazon’s algorithm, meanwhile, considers pricing, availability, fulfillment and customer service when choosing who will win the Buy Box. For some sellers, this could be enough to convince them to start selling on Walmart, either instead of or in addition to Amazon. 

Walmart-Google partnership

Walmart’s voice-based shopping partnership with Google is sure to give it the competitive edge it needs to attract and retain customers, helping the marketplace to get to know its clientele better by understanding their buying dialogue. This will allow Walmart to make the shopping experience more personal than ever.

Fewer fees than Amazon

Similar to Amazon, Walmart charges its sellers a referral fee, which works almost exactly in the same way. Different product categories have varied fees, for example, if you fall within the Video Game Consoles category you pay 8 percent, but if you sell Musical Instruments, you pay 12 percent. There are also no fees for brand owners on Walmart marketplace, which helps to lure in the best brands. For comparison’s sake, Amazon seller fees include a monthly subscription, referral and variable closnig fees. 

The drawbacks

Cons

Exclusivity to the extreme

While Walmart’s exclusivity can be attractive, it sets the bar too high for small sellers. As well as this, it is believed that it tends to favor brand owners over retailers, which doesn’t help its cause.

Time-consuming

While Walmart says that its seller application form takes roughly 10 minutes to fill out, the approval process takes up to two weeks and onboarding and integration generally takes a further two to four weeks. This could be considered a lengthy process for some.

Pricing

Somewhat surprisingly, Walmart.com customers appear to be in a higher income bracket than that of its in-store customers. This means they value quality over quantity which, depending on the types of products you’re selling, could be seen as a negative.

“Cheap” image

Although premium sellers are encouraged to apply for Walmart’s marketplace, it’s had a tough time shaking off the cheap image of its brick-and-mortar chain.  

The bottom line

While Walmart.com has both pros and cons, it’s slowly growing into an e-commerce force to be reckoned with, adding roughly 1,000 new sellers every month.

Don’t get left behind.Walmart’s steep barrier to entry and exclusivity make it stand out from other marketplaces. If you think you can fit the criteria, get started on your application today and you’ll be one step closer to selling on Walmart. Want to learn more about xSellco’s integration with Walmart? Speak with one of our sales agents. Or if you’re already on it, learn what we can do to take your e-commerce customer service to the next level.


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Holly McQuillan

Holly is an Online Marketing Executive here at xSellco. With previous experience doing social media for Saas companies, she's now moved towards the content side of things. When she's not writing, you'll find her listening to any and every podcast.

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