Interested in launching on Walmart.com but don’t know where to start? Bobsled Project Manager Jesse Chembars has outlined all the steps below.
1. Account Set-UpApply to become a seller and provide standard business information.
- The process should take 15-30 minutes to complete the online application
- Approval times vary from 2 days to 2 weeks
Complete The Launch Checklist and Partner Set up.
List items either manually or via bulk upload with spreadsheets.
- Depending on catalog size you can choose to use either method.
- Basic product information is needed (Images, Copy, Product Photos Price, and UPCs)
Add inventory and start selling!
- Uploading an inventory file is the final stage of the partner set up.
2. Inventory Preparation
There are two inventory fulfillment options – Fulfilled By Merchant (FBM) or Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS).
- Whether a brand uses a third party logistics provider, or fulfills directly from their own warehouse, Walmart views both as FBM
- Bobsled suggests finding a 3rd party logistics partner who can deliver within a 2-day window to take advantage of the 2-day shipping badge which is the equivalent of Amazon’s Prime badge.
Above: FBM order page screenshot
Walmart Fulfillment Services
- WFS looks to mirror FBA offerings and fees will be within 5-10% of FBA fees for most brands.
- Brands currently need to apply for the WFS program, and answer a 10 question application around their business.
- Rolled out to the public in early 2020, WFS was somewhat halted by Covid according to the director of the program.
- From our understanding, similar prep is necessary as with FBA where packages are ready to be sorted, picked, packed and then shipped to the end customer.
- WFS takes care of all logistical metrics and ensures smooth delivery.
Walmart recently shared some promising results from the initial WFS roll-out:
"Since launching the program, we are thrilled to report that sellers and brands that joined WFS have seen a significant Gross Merchandise Value (GMV) increase on average, ranging between 20-65%, depending on the volume of items they have chosen to fulfill with us and if they previously had the 2-day tag on Marketplace."
– Excerpt from a Walmart Fulfillment Services email
We anticipate a Q2 2021 roll out of WFS to more sellers as Walmart proves it’s ability through the Holidays. They did technically go through a trial last Q4 that was a beta program, but I believe this Q4 will be a more thorough test of WFS.
Above: WFS homepage
3. Account Management
- Completed in-house or through one of the approved 3rd party logistics partners. Standard best inventory management practices of accurately measuring sales velocity and attempting to provide lean coverage while avoiding stock-outs applies for Walmart’s online marketplace
- A new direct-to -customer messaging console was rolled out in Q3 of 2020. Prior to this console, customers needed to email Walmart Customer Service, and they would forward communication to the seller – a very clunky process
- 24 hour response time is expected, but we’ve not yet observed a negative impact of messages going over the window.
- Buyer messages seem to be more sparse than other marketplaces, but this aligns with the lower traffic levels to the site overall.
- At the time of publications, Brand Protection tools are limited. There is no brand registry, and currently no real way to stop another seller from selling your products.
- A buy box does exist, and different parties compete to win it. Price point is the biggest factor currently.
4. AdvertisingThe PPC advertising structure is similar to Amazon, but far less advanced.
- Automatic and manual campaigns exist with differences in bid structures
- Walmart currently uses a ‘1st price’ bidding model compared to Amazon’s ‘2nd price’ model. With Walmart’s ‘1st Price’ model, if you bid $3, and the nearest competitor only bids $2, you will still pay $3
- Initially WM required a $1k per month spend commitment for a brand to participate in PPC. You do not have to spend this much, just ‘commit’ to it. It’s just recently been reduced to $500 per month indicating that Walmart sees value & revenue in this service.
- Like the monthly commitment, Walmart had a $100 per day commitment that was recently reduced to $50 per day. You do not have to spend this much, just ‘commit’ to it.
💡 For a deeper dive on Walmart advertising check
out Walmart Advertising: Kiri Masters’ Hot Take
5. Other Marketing Tools
Pro Seller Badge
This badge was announced recently, and we're starting to see the update on some accounts! The Pro Seller Badge is a way that Walmart is looking to call out top sellers who meet Walmart's metrics:
- Provide free online or in-store returns
- Drive low delivery defects
- Have low cancellation defects
- Develop a high quality catalog
Above: Pro Seller Badge metrics and scorecard within the dashboard
The badge shows up on both the search engine results page (SERP) and product display page (PFP), providing brands with good exposure. The badge also ties into Walmart’s online/in-store omni channel experience that Walamrt will begin to push aggressively in 2021.
Above: Example of a ‘Pro Seller’ badge on the SERP
Above: Example of a ‘Pro Seller’ badge on a PDP
In addition to standard product display page (PDP) content, brands can pay for enhanced content on the PDP which helps drive conversions and sales.
- In order to gain enhanced brand content, brands need to work with Walmart-approved solution providers who help develop and host the enhanced content. Contracts with these solution providers are typically for a single year
- Enhanced content is similar to A+ content on Amazon but with a few more options outside of pre-generated modules like with Amazon.
- Limited to 3 types – percentage off, clearance, Add to cart MSRP
- We’ve seen lift with clients when applying these during promotional holidays of 30-50%
- It is possible to create bundles which can help with on-page conversion and repeat purchase.
Spark Review Program
- This is a direct pay-for-product-review program. Brand purchase credits and give product away. Recently, it was $30 per credit + free products, and Walmart recommends giving away hundreds of credits for product launches. Bobsled has yet to have clients execute on this due to the prohibitive cost and unknown ROI.
6. Pro Tips
Types of Brands
- Walmart is suited to medium and larger brands who can view entry to the marketplace as a long-term investment
- Brands that appeal to the typical “Walmart customer” should be the first in line to appraise the Walmart online marketplace. Strong brick-and-mortar sales within Walmart stores would be a strong indication of this synergy
- There are unfortunately many limitations with seller tools and Walmart at this point in time. Example: a buyer message console was only unveiled late this year, and the marketplace has been already around for almost 5 years! Brands need to feel comfortable with uncertainty (or work directly with a qualified partner) if they wish to enter the Walmart marketplace.
- However, Walmart is moving in the right direction though with the updates we’ve seen this year with the Listing Quality Dashboard, Seller Hub and Message Console.
Small Marketplace Size
- Traffic estimates vary, but Walmart generates roughly 135M monthly visits vs 1B+ monthly visits with Amazon. Certainly less traffic, but they are working to grow this through an omni channel experience that Amazon doesn’t have yet
- The Walmart marketplace is the best online marketplace to compete directly with Amazon. Approximately 90% of the US population lives within 10 miles of a Walmart store – perfect for last mile delivery and fast shipping times.
- Enter the Walmart marketplace understanding that it’s an investment, and a powerful brand protection move (e.g. sell your branded products on Walmart.com before another party does). We’re seeing brands need upwards of 9 months to reach sales maturity because of the limited marketplace traffic.
7. Results Bobsled Has Achieved on Walmart
A Bobsled client in the Craft and Home Decor space has been selling on Walmart.com for the last eighteen months. The below graph illustrates the strong growth that we experienced earlier this year before the anticipated plateau over the warmer months. The main reasons for this growth include; fast shipping, catalog expansions, optimization efforts, effective promo strategies and getting lucky by having a Covid-friendly product during the first lockdown period.
Above: Walmart growth for Bobsled client in the Craft and Home Decor space
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