Walmart has always been one of the top brick-and-mortar grocery and department store chains in the United States, but it hasn’t been able to shake off Amazon’s power when it came to online shopping. Even so, Walmart’s online marketplace can’t be ignored and more people are learning how to sell on Walmart.
Since 2016, Walmart has been making significant changes to improve their ecommerce game, starting with inquisitions of online stores Shoebuy.com, Modcloth.com, Jet.com, Moosejaw, Bonobos and India-based ecommerce site Flipkart, beating Amazon’s bids.
Walmart also invested in the Tel Aviv-based product review start-up Aspectiva and plans to compete directly to Netflix and Amazon with its own subscription-video.
Not everyone knows this, but Walmart has completely opened up its doors to third-party sellers.
In the past, the company only invited online sellers with successful stores and years-long of experience in customer service.
Today, you can have a shot at expanding your reach simply by sending your application.
Two Ways to Sell Online on Walmart: Dropship vs. Direct
If you’re an online seller interested in working with Walmart, you can choose between two program options:
1. DSV (drop ship vendor) Program
As a dropshipper for Walmart, you technically sell products to Walmart, which displays product description and markets the items with full force.
Once a customer orders via the Walmart store, Walmart forwards the details and you ship the order directly to the customer.
Walmart handles after-sales customer support and just pays you for the agreed-upon price of the product.
2. Walmart Marketplace Seller Program
If you’re a third-party merchant of either eBay or Amazon and you’re looking for Walmart’s counterpart, the Marketplace seller program is exactly that. A
ll products sold by third-party sellers are labeled “Sold & Shipped by Marketplace seller.”
Unlike the DVS program, sellers will take care of writing listing details, posting product images, providing customer support, creating promotions, restructuring prices, and so on.
* All the information you’ll read from here on out will be about the Marketplace seller program (and not DSV).
3 Reasons to Join as a Walmart Seller
Who should consider selling on Walmart marketplace?
Here are the top reasons Walmart may be a good fit for your business.
1. Small businesses with unique products
Application to become a Walmart seller is strict. Nobody knows the criteria Walmart has in approving applications, but many experts put quality of products at the top of that list.
As such, if your business creates unique products, getting the high exposure Walmart can provide will surely skyrocket sales.
2. Brands finding it hard to market their products
Walmart.com is visited by over 100 million people every month.
As a brand selling products on the Walmart site, expect better and more organic exposure without spending extra advertising or lifting a finger for more marketing work.
It’s also important to note that Walmart attracts a different audience than Amazon, eBay and other ecommerce platforms, so adding another platform won’t hurt.
3. Companies with Hard-to-find Items
Any business (big or small) can benefit from Walmart’s massive network. But if you have hard-to-find items to sell, your advantage ups 100 fold.
This is because Walmart is known as a giant retailer as it is, so offering something that cannot be found on any of its brick-and-mortar stores (and huge online collection) is pretty impressive.
Just the fact that you’re not competing with any of Walmart’s own products means the company can highlight your items more than usual.
Walmart won’t be suitable for you or your company if:
- You’re selling crafts online. Etsy or eBay may be the better options for you.
- You’re just starting out. A functional website, an online store (even if hosted on a different platform), and other similar portfolio gives Walmart a sense of your company’s history. If your store has no online footprint yet, it’s unlikely you’d be approved as a Walmart seller.
- Knockoffs – As part of Walmart’s quality checks, stores with knockoffs never get approved. This is directly opposite to Amazon and eBay’s problem with counterfeit products.
Pros and Cons of Using Walmart Marketplace
The biggest advantage of choosing Walmart marketplace is that it has NO MONTHLY LISTING OR SET-UP FEES. Compared to Amazon’s selling fees, per-item fee, referral fee and other variable closing fee, Walmart makes it simple and non-confusing. In fact, Walmart sellers only pay the referral fee per sale (around 15% of the product) when they make a sale.
Other pros of using Walmart marketplace include:
- Free 2-Day Shipping – Orders $35 and up placed by 2 pm in the timezone of the delivery address are eligible for a free, two-day shipping. Shoppers love anything that could save them money, so this move from Walmart will definitely attract buyers.
- Returns Accepted in every Walmart store – Even if Walmart has downsized its brick-and-mortar stores significantly, it still has a massive family of 4,700 stores and every one can accept returns.
- Build Authority Overnight – Even if you’re a small company, as long as you passed Walmart’s strict pre-approval process, the approval will instantly give you the stamp of credibility as a legitimate seller.
- FedEx Advantage program – Sellers who choose to use FedEx can save up to 37% on shipping.
- Continuous improvement – Walmart is open about continuously improving for both sellers and buyers, from customer support, analytics tools, fast loading times, and so on, you won’t be kept in the dark as a seller.
Probably the biggest disadvantage of a Walmart seller is the lower margins you’d likely see on the Walmart Marketplace.
Also, since Walmart is still essentially new, there are plenty of kinks to iron out and you may experience listing issues every now and then, especially when it comes to the single use of UPCs or GTINs and the same products sold by different Walmart sellers.
Other cons of the Walmart marketplace include:
- Delisted for non-competitive Pricing – Walmart likes to have competitive pricing across the board, which is why some sellers may find their products delisted if the prices sellers have set are not as competitive as Walmart would want.
- Rules on shipping materials and branding – Walmart lets sellers choose the shipping method and carrier, as well as set the shipping fees, but they’re not allowed to use branded packaging (especially if materials come from competing companies like Amazon’s FBA).
Walmart is also still working on its seller support, which is why the existing sellers deem Walmart’s support as “non-existent.”
Here’s to hoping the company will listen to its sellers already onboard and improve support to avoid turning off other third-party sellers interested in moving or switching to Walmart Marketplace.
7 Steps to Start Selling on Walmart Marketplace
If you’re still here, and you know your store has a shot at being approved by Walmart, follow these steps:
1. Apply to Become a Walmart Seller
Visit marketplace.walmart.com, click the “APPLY” button and complete all required fields, which includes name, address, company name, business website, category of business, annual online sales revenues (in USD), and more. The form takes less than 10 minutes to complete, so make sure you’ve got all details in. Select “Save” and “Apply Now.”
This is probably the hardest step, since the information you provide here will make or break your chances of becoming a Walmart seller.
If you’re approved, you’ll be notified by e-mail with the subject “Your Walmart Seller Center account has been created.”
2. Complete Your Registration
Click the link in the e-mail you received on step 1. This will direct you to the Registration Wizard, which guides you through five main sections:
- Account Creation
- Partner Registration
- Taxes (W-9)
- Verify Bank Account, and
- Shipping Info
Make sure to prepare bank account information and a digital copy of your latest W-9 form. Most of the details you need to provide you already have as a business owner.
3. Fill Out Your Partner Profile
More information will be needed to complete the Partner Profile.
You’re ready to move on the next step once your Launch Checklist progress bar reaches 100%.
4. Verify Your Banking Information
As a Walmart seller, you need to link your bank account to your Walmart Marketplace account. To do this, you have to log-in to your bank (the one you listed during registration) and check transactions for a $0.01 deposit from “WM Marketplace Penny Test.”
If you found this transaction, it means your accounts are now linked and payments can be sent to your bank.
Click “Mark as Done” on the Launch Checklist, which confirms receipt of the penny deposit. Note that this process isn’t instant – it would take up to 4 business days to appear in your account’s list of transactions.
5. Prepare Your Item Listings
This step is the most time-consuming of all, since you’ll be uploading all of your content, including product photos, descriptions, videos, attributes, SKUs, and so on.
The good news is Walmart gives you several integration methods to choose from (bulk upload, API or solution provider).
Begin this step by choosing the right category and sub-category for your product. FYI, Walmart has 24 categories and 79 sub-categories already available; You just have to pick the nearest one for your products. Use the Categorization Guide if you’re feeling lost with this step.
Make the category as specific as possible. Attributes, such as gender, age group, size, and so on, will not only help you describe each product you’re selling, but also guides Walmart’s search engines to “find” your product more effectively.
In the “Main Image URL” section, fill it in with the appropriate URL where the image is hosted. (You’ll have to upload these on a third-party storage and just get the link to it). The file size shouldn’t be bigger than 1MB.
Click “Validate Fields” if you’re done. Edit if something goes wrong, and upload Item Feed file to the Seller Center.
If you see “Staged” status on your Launch Checklist, you’re off to the next step.
6. Place a Test Order
Before you welcome buyers into “your” Walmart store, you have to make sure everything is working properly.
To do this, you have to test the items and orders by going to the Seller Center and selecting “Preview Item” to see how customers will see the product page. Verify all the details, especially pricing and item details.
To test an order, update the item inventory to 1 and click “Update Inventory.” Go back to Seller Center and click “Publish Item” and “Purchase Item.” If everything from your “order” goes on smoothly, then you’re done with the checklist.
7. Launch Your Account and Collect Your Paycheck!
Once you’ve marked all items on your checklist as “done,” a pop-up message will ask you to confirm that you’re ready to launch.
If you are, select “confirm” to request for a review and wait for Walmart representatives to check out your profile.
If everything passes Walmart’s standards, your products will go live on Walmart.com within 24 hours.
The Future of Walmart Marketplace
Amazon isn’t one to shake when it comes to online competition, but Walmart definitely knows that it’s late to the ecommerce party and is aggressively making up for its absence.
In fact, brands are aware of Walmart’s moves. Double Insight, maker of the #1 best-selling item on Amazon, “Instant Pot” (earned a whopping $17 million on Amazon Prime Day alone), has decided to launch its follow-up product exclusively at Walmart.
Walmart isn’t a perfect marketplace.
Even Amazon that has been leading the ecommerce game continue to have its kinks.
But as a seller, you wouldn’t want to put all your eggs in one basket, so having a new platform to expand your store is always a good thing.
Should you consider selling on Walmart Marketplace? My advice is if you have an established online store, you should go for it.