Selling On Walmart- Is It Right For Your Business?
How to sell on Walmart? That is the question on everyone's mind lately as it is clear from recent developments that most online sellers are starting to notice. It helps that Shopify and Walmart cut a deal earlier this year, enabling Shopify sellers to sell on Walmart from within their store.
The COVID pandemic of 2020 pushed a lot more buyers online as well. Some impressive numbers about eCommerce in 2020:
The numbers above clearly show that Walmart.com is the land of opportunity at the moment. Amazon has not had a great year by any means. Their numbers aren't down, but they made several wrong moves and poorly chosen statements in public.
While they bragged about sky-rocketing sales during COVID, their number state otherwise. Buyer trust on the platform is at an all-time low. Walmart and Shopify seem like the big winners from all of the troubles this year so far.
Studies from 2019 show that less than 18% of US buyers trust Amazon reviews and that for the first time ever, more buyers trust Walmart. Still, in comparison, Walmart's sales are not that much for eCommerce. There certainly is enough business for all 3 to do just fine.
Pros Vs. Cons Of Selling On Walmart.Com
What Should A Seller Expect?
What can a seller expect on Walmart.com. Let's set the record straight.
Walmart is not what you are used to. If Amazon is a duck, Walmart is a chicken. They might have some similarities but in the end, they are very different. It may look like fried chicken, but fried duck tastes different with a different texture.
What exactly does that mean? If you go in with the same expectation, strategies, and positioning, expect to be extremely disappointed.
You cannot just copy your listings to Walmart, they have a different setup. ListingMirror, and similar listing software is great for the heavy lifting, but it optimizes nothing on any site.
When you move listings from one site to another, not optimizing the listing for the specific site it is on will cost you sales. Walmart Listing SEO is enough of a topic for it's own article.
A Curated Community
One major benefit of using Walmart is they are very picky about who they accept as sellers these days. Using their own words:
"We only want great sellers, so we’re selective in who we approve to join. Our ideal sellers:
Buyer Personas - Who Is Your Audience
The key to success in any business is knowing your demographic. Do you have buyer personas created for your target buyers?
If you don't, you miss out on vital information that helps inform your audience's decisions. If you don't, why not?
Why am I bringing it up in an article about Walmart? Because as marketers, it is your job to understand your audience. What do you think the demographics of the average Walmart.com user is? I'll bet you are wrong!
The demographics between Amazon and Walmart online are actually very similar. The median income for a Walmart online shopper is nice and high compared to the in-store shopper.
Why Should I Sell On Walmart?
While Walmart might not do the sales that the other one does today, thanks to Amazon tom fuckery, US shoppers trust Walmart reviews more now and early indications are that more and more shoppers are switching to Walmart every day. With a younger base demographic, Walmart could surprise everyone and slam dunk Jeff Bezos in the long run.
People do not realize that Walmart was slaying dragons in the industry all the way back when Bezos had a full head of hair. Walmart opened their first superstore in China in 1996, the same year it finally expanded to Alaska giving it a presence in all 50 states.
Walmart is flush with cash reserves while their competitor is not. Much less of Walmart's' assets are financed by debt(60%) compared to AMZ's 78%. Walmart is actually also seen as a much better long term investment because of this plus there is a Walmart within 10 miles of almost every American citizen.
How Is Selling On Walmart Different?
Every new product used to get physically reviewed before approval although I think they have moved away from that.
If you sell food items, expect to spend some serious cash on Ins certificates and inspections of your facilities. Be sure that you have legit copies of any safety certificates and not just some xeroxed fake cert from a Chinese manufacturer. That will get you 86'd for life. Walmart takes product safety very seriously these days
Walmart has stated publicly, that they will not allow the marketplace to go to the dogs like others. There will not be 15 sellers listing the same yellow cup. Before you even apply, check to see if your products are well represented on Walmart already.
Walmart is a real business, private label with nothing more than color being the difference is called a knockoff or variation at best. Walmart has far more experience in China and with China than Amazon ever will. They do not react well to manipulation and counterfeits unless it is their own product of course.
In terms of actual sales, expect to do 15% of what you do on Amazon. That is standard at first on Walmart. Is there opportunity on Walmart, hell yes. Is there an opportunity to do more sales? In certain cases, yes.
Will most sellers get to that spot? No, because they are impatient and believe the story that Walmart will never be as good as the other, so for them, it will never have the chance. Other sellers with good intentions and great products may find that their specific audience is not on Walmart.
You are not sellers, sellers work at flea markets and sell peanuts at the circus, you are marketers that happen to also sell related products. Your goal is to know your audience and what makes them tick. Your job is to find where they congregate and target them there. People do not congregate on marketplaces.
Currently on Walmart, a majority of the top sellers in a lot of categories are awful. It is not uncommon to see only one or two doing 95% of the sales and they have terrible reviews with a 3-week delivery window. If you cannot see the easy opportunity to honestly kick them to the curb without manipulation and giveaways, then that is your fault.
What Does Walmart Expect From Sellers?
Sellers are evaluated on three metrics:
Does Walmart Have Paid Ads Or PPC?
At face value, Walmart PPC will cost you more than Amazon. Walmart uses the first bid. That means if you are the top bid and you bid 2$, you pay 2$. On Amazon, they use the 2nd bid. You pay 1 penny more than the next lower bid, so you need to pay attention to your bidding strategy.
Only a fraction of sellers are using Walmart PPC which means the overall cost is much lower. If you have a sound strategy, you could actually run campaigns profitably without much effort or competition and drive a lot of traffic.
What Are The Results For Existing Sellers?
Here are some real results from various clients over the years on Walmart. In the past, 90% of sellers hated it because they couldn't let go of their preconceived Amazon misconceptions. Those that stuck it out...
One sells name brand computer parts, and the lack of competition on Walmart means he meets or beats his Amazon sales regularly, and he does very well on Amazon.
Another client with a very low priced health product got recognized by Walmart retail buyers and was asked to do a test order for retail, for 500 stores. He does at least 100k a month on Walmart retail, and it is 100% automated from dirt to delivery.
Several other clients were able to grow their sales after being on there for a while. They don't match their Amazon sales, but they aren't complaining either.
PRO-TIP: You can sell as both a Drop Ship Vendor (DSV) and a Marketplace seller. However, you cannot sell the same item as both a seller and DSV. A Drop Ship Vendor on Walmart is the equivalent of Fulfilled by Merchant.
Winning The Walmart Buy Box W/O The Lowest Price
The buy box on Walmart is similar to Amazon, but winning it is not. While Walmart stresses low pricing as amazon does, there are ways to get the buy box without the lowest price.
Walmart has a ton of data to study, just as Amazon does. Walmart understands that people are willing to pay a little more for quality and time.
If you do a search on Google for how to win the buy box on Walmart, you get the same old story that you see these people talking about on Amazon, price price price. This isn't always the case with Walmart. Would you pay the lowest price for something if you could spend a little more but have the item in 2 days instead of 7 or 8?
Offer 2-day, free shipping on Walmart for the buy box win, whether you have the lowest price or not. This will also increase your ranking in the search results, lower cart abandonment(58% of sellers abandon their carts due to shipping expense), increase sales overall and make for a better selling experience for you when your bottom line looks better.
How To Avoid Getting Your Items Automatically Unpublished
The algorithm reviews all marketplace listings regularly. While not as buggy as Amazon, it has been known to occasionally do weird things. Below are the things that will trigger a listing being removed automatically. While I just mentioned winning the buy box without having the lowest price, understand that price gouging is not tolerated. Walmart does not fix the prices of items themselves quite the way that Amazon does.
The most common reason items are unpublished is "Reasonable Price Not Satisfied." this occurs if you trigger several Walmart's rules.
- 1Price Parity Rule — this rule will automatically unpublish items from Walmart Marketplace if a customer would save by purchasing the same item from the same seller on a competing website, including the cost of shipping
- 2Price Leadership Rule — this rule will automatically unpublish items from Walmart Marketplace if a customer would save drastically by purchasing the item on a competing website regardless of the seller (including shipping).
- 3Categories and Product Performance Issues
- 4Restricted or Prohibited Products(item-level cancellations and returns)
Most issues can be quickly taken care of with changes to product descriptions. If not, a close review of the Marketplace policies that apply will usually reveal an explanation.
What Is Walmart Seller Support Like?
Walmart was Amazon's role model long ago on how to be a dick to sellers. In my opinion, the two companies are in a constant pissing contest to see who can treat sellers worse.
Walmart customer service is like being in a senior citizen home full of people with bad hearing aids and thick accents, you can't understand a word they say, They all say something different and very little gets accomplished. Walmart corporate is like going back in time.
They are a giant group of peter principal practitioners that only understand retail, making decisions for eCommerce from a retail perspective. It has improved over the years but not by enough.
Is It Really Worth Selling On Walmart?
While Walmart prides itself on low prices, they are not quite as dickish as Amazon. You don't want to sell higher on Walmart than elsewhere, but since you don't have 40 competitors selling the exact same item with a different paint job, the race to the bottom is not really an issue.
After all, that is it worth selling on Walmart, maybe putting up with some grief for what could be a great revenue driver, possibly? That is for you to decide.
Personally, my opinion is that if your audience is there, you should also be. Amazon's market share, while still immense, is not growing, it has been shrinking while everyone else's grows.
According to the historical sales graph, I'd say only a fool doesn't see huge opportunity in it. Is it opportunity for you? That may be a different answer.
Walmart.com Marketplace Quicklinks
As you proceed through getting started on Walmart.com, use the links below for additional information
What Are The Steps To Sell On Walmart?
- 1Complete your registration as explained below. Once you have your approval email, follow the included link to set up your account.
- 2Complete your Partner Profile
- 3Verify Bank Deposit
- 4Complete Item Setup
- 5Check Product Details & Test
- 6Launch Your Account.
1. Account Registration
Walmart has an approval process that is not super easy, but not treacherous either. Understand that Walmart is looking for sellers with a proven history of successful eCommerce. I am not aware of any sellers that have been approved with no experience.
To sell on Walmart online sellers will need:
International sellers will need :
Share this post with your Social Media so other sellers can benefit from it as well.
The application process takes 10 to 15 minutes. Once finished, click submit. The approval process takes approx. 2 weeks.
If you get approved, you will be contacted by a Business Development Manager for the next step, the verification process. The first thing you need to do when logging in is to accept the retailer agreement. I suggest printing it out and reading later. We have found weird stuff in there at different times.
Your on-boarding process has begun. This can take up to 2 weeks. Next, you will register on the Seller Center, add products, and fulfillment details. The entire process can be broken into steps.
2. Partner Profile
The first three sections are fairly self-explanatory. As you can see from the dashboard image everything is documented for each step of the on-boarding.
Provide Fast, high-Quality Customer Service
Walmart expects all sellers to provide fast, quality customer service. Consumers want fast and secure service. To attract customer attention and boost their brand loyalty, ensure your product listings contain Walmart’s fast shipping badge. In addition, keep customer support access available and monitored for buyers to contact you easily..
You will add your customer service contact details for your new customers. This includes things like your customer service phone number, email and best ways to contact you for support. Additionally, you want to include the customer service policy information you’d like shoppers to know.
Reviews are vital in your Walmart Marketplace listing. To streamline your Walmart SEO strategy, focus on providing an unparalleled customer experience.
Follow these tips to increase your chances of getting positive reviews on Walmart:
If you want to be successful on Walmart, ensure that these items are thoroughly covered and do not cut corners.
Can I Use Fulfillment On Walmart?
If you use FBA to fulfill Walmart expect to get banned for life before your next haircut. They do not give any second chances for that. Find a good 3pl. It will save you money on long term storage elsewhere as well. Walmart requires UPC's or GTIN's no exceptions.
Walmart will be rolling out its own fulfillment soon. Walmart sellers using fulfillment will get search result placement preference and can expect an increase from 50 to 2000%, (Walmart's numbers).
If you get invited to Walmart fulfillment as an early adopter or beta user, jump on it fast.
When Amazon started FBA, we were in the beta program and made more in sales then we ever had before by quite a bit. It took a good year for things to start heating up with competition from other sellers, by then we had the top positions cemented in fairly well.
Shipping & Free 2-Day Fulfillment
You can select the carriers, shipping price and shipping method when you set up your seller profile in Seller Center. We have five shipping methods available. Orders must be shipped on-time and can’t include materials from any company other than Walmart.
The best thing that any seller can do is get themselves in the 2-day shipping program. See their eligibility requirements. It still seems like most Walmart sellers are not in the program. It really comes down to your costs and metrics. We suggest using a 3pl or Walmart's preferred partner Deliverr. You can use our 3pl tool to find one or go straight to Deliverr.
No matter what methods that you choose, understand that Walmart does not mess around. Once you set transit times, they expect you to hit them. With the current USPS delivery days effecting sellers elsewhere, if Deliverr can deliver on time in Q4 this year, it could give Walmart sellers a major advantage over those sellers relying on FBA. Only time will tell.
What Is The Walmart Return Policy?
By law in the US, you must post a return policy, or the law requires you to accept returns within 30 days of purchase. Since Walmart is a marketplace, if you do not post a return policy, you have to take whatever decisions the marketplace makes. All marketplaces prefer you to post a return policy independent of theirs even if it mimics their own. See this link for great information and examples regarding return policies
Walmart wants you to run your business like a business and not a hobby and wants you to post a return policy. That means on Walmart, you can post whatever return policy that you want as long as it meets their minimum requirements.
The standard returns window is 30 days. Walmart allows exceptions and in some cases restocking fees. Review your options. Walmart monitors return policies and will make you aware of policies that it feels are not in line with its' core values.
Document all buyer seller communication. Respond to inquiries quickly. Walmart will reimburse you for any returns that it accepts outside of the returns window if you have the proper documentation.
Pro-TIP: Posting a longer return window instead of a shorter returns window actually lowers returns because people aren't as rushed to send an item back and either continue using it or just forget to send it.
Form W-9 to issue the 1099s in the year-end for tax purposes. Fill the required details – your name, address, and TIN (Taxpayer Identification Number). Please consult a tax professional. We do not give tax advice.
Set Up Payments
Walmart only processes payments using Payoneer. Use the link from within Seller Center on Walmart to create your account. If you do signup for Payoneer by going through the Walmart portal, Payoneer will charge you each time you withdraw money. Using the Seller Center Portal avoids that.
Regardless of how many admins that you have, they will all use the same credentials to log in. Click the Payoneer Bank Transfer service from Walmart’s Seller Center to receive payments straight to your bank account with no withdrawal limit or transfer fees.
3. Verify Bank Deposit From “WM Marketplace Penny Test.”
Log in to your registered bank account and check your transactions for a $0.01 deposit. This confirms that Walmart can communicate with your bank in facilitating future payment transactions. The bank deposit typically takes one or two business days to appear in your account. To speed up the process, be sure to enter your account information correctly.
4. Complete Your Item Setup
You may upload products on Walmart manually or enter them via bulk upload. There are 24 categories and 79 subcategories you can choose from. Be sure to select the right classification for each item. Doing so ensures your product appears on relevant search results.
Walmart can be a complete nightmare to list on. It has gotten much better over the years. This section and the next section deserve a post of their own with images and this article is getting long as it stands now. Check back in a day or two and there will be a separate article regarding listing Walmart products and optimization.
5. Product Details & Testing
Verify the product images, descriptions and pricing for any products in Staged status. To access and test your items, visit the Seller center, then select “Preview Item.”
6. Launch Account
Once you complete all items on your Launch Checklist, you will receive a message that you’re ready to launch. Simply select “confirm” to trigger a launch request. The Walmart Marketplace team will then review your profile.
Walmart Commission Structure
The good news is there are no automatic monthly fees on Walmart. When you sell an item, Walmart figures out the taxes per sale based on multiple factors and charges you a commission. Some sellers think they are smart and will attempt to list in the wrong categories to lower their commission. Good luck, Walmart will adjust the commission at the time of sale charging you the correct amount.
Apparel & Accessories
Automotive & Powersports
Camera & Photo
Furniture & Decor
Health & Personal Care
Home & Garden
Industrial & Scientific
Luggage & Travel Accessories
Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses
Software & Computer Video Games
Tires & Wheels
Tools & Home Improvement
Toys & Games
Video & DVD
Video Game Consoles
Remake Your Business And Your Bottom Line
No one can knock the opportunities presented to many Amazon sellers over the years. We have all seen the charts and graphs presented by Bezos of all of the sellers that have gotten rich. What they do not address ever are the numbers of failed sellers in particular, over the last 5 years.
The reports from the different rebates and feedback companies about buyers wanting freebies and their posted demographics are correct. Still, they also only focus on their core and not on buyers as a whole. Those numbers are just as flawed and trumped-up as Amazons' own regularly produced propaganda.
Neither has the balls to address the elephant in the room, which is that it is far easier to succeed as a new restaurant opening on the busiest corner in America than it is on Amazon. Those odds suck! As someone that came from the restaurant and hotel industry, I can tell you those odds are brutal.
According to Amazon, 95% of all sellers fail during their first year. It never used to be like that until self-proclaimed 'guru's' started pushing freebies, giveaways, and rebates. For most, that is an unsustainable strategy. From my own experience as someone who has never launched a product with either of those gimmicks over 20 years, I can tell you that it has cost sellers billions in sales left on the table.
Consider Walmart your chance to redeem yourself and actually keep more of your bottom line for yourself. Regardless of what you think of Walmart shoppers, the demographic on Walmart.com is entirely different.
Most longtime Amazon sellers will tell you that they used to get full price for their products or at least what they were asking without all of the giveaways and rebates.
Think about all of the money you have given as rebates, discounts, and coupons. Would that money pay for a vacation? Buy you a car? How would that money change your life? I'm sure in some sellers situations, it would buy them several homes.
Now is your chance to make that money and actually keep it. Can you be a marketer? Can you sell without having to manipulate people into leaving reviews or pumping up your ranking? Do you know how to market products? You would only be doing this for yourself and your family.
Sure, buyers would benefit, but the most significant benefit would come to you and your family. Do you have the desire to even try? Walmart doesn't tolerate the bs that Amazon does, you've been warned!
If this post is useful and or you have gained any value or knowledge from it, please share it with others that can also gain value from it.
At Ecommerce Optimizer, you get something that you won't find with other coaches and consultants, experience. We have been involved with the Walmart platform for over 4 years, have watched things progress, and know the caveats. We have been involved with Amazon since the early 2000s and in eCommerce since 1999.
When you work with us, you get the benefit of that experience. Selling on different platforms around the world gives us a unique perspective and many different strategies and techniques at our disposal. We bring all of that background and expertise to the table when we work with a client.
Check out our other articles on a variety of topics:
- Product Sourcing,
- Creating Effective
- Business Plans,
- Pinterest Optimization,
- List Building Strategies,
- How To Leverage Google For More Traffic,
- Dominate Amazon Products Series.
We focus on helping sellers grow their businesses and brands across marketplaces and regions. We believe in building communities with content, creating sustainable long term businesses with multiple revenue streams.
Conclusion - Get On Walmart
If you are only selling on Amazon, even if you are trademarked, calling yourself a brand is pushing it a little. Not to take anything away from your effort and hard word, but if you were suspended tomorrow, do you have the mailing list and customer base to be selling elsewhere and not having to start from the bottom with nothing?
If nothing else, selling on Walmart gives you a backup plan for that inevitable day that every Amazon seller faces, suspension. At least you will have cash-flow continuing from Walmart while you get Amazon sorted.
Plus, diversification adds incredible value to your business. Walmart also can offer something Amazon cannot, it could lead to untold riches. A very select few may end up in Walmart retail.
My advice is to get on Walmart.com if it is appropriate for your product. First, they have to approve you. If you get accepted, plan on sticking it out through the end of Q4 at a minimum and then evaluate how it went. Realize that as your first Q4 on the platform, in most cases, you will only have better years moving forward.
If you have a community, any serious eCommerce seller should market to them when you first get on Walmart and make a great impression on the powers that be on Walmart. If you think they aren't paying attention, think again. This is a massive opportunity for Walmart, and they are expecting results and professionalism. They already fought back from a terrible reputation in the '90s and paid dearly for it. Don't expect them to make that mistake twice!