With the effects of coronavirus on retail across the globe, more ecommerce brands are looking to make up lost revenue by expanding into new channels. And while many are flocking to giant marketplaces like Amazon or eBay, another often-overlooked channel is just as lucrative with a fraction of the competition: Walmart Marketplace (or simply Walmart.com).
By the numbers, Walmart is the largest retailer in the world, with $517 billion in global revenue, twice as much as Amazon. But speaking strictly of online retail, they’re much more of a contender than reigning champion. However, over the last few years, they’ve been investing more time and resources in their ecommerce presence, hoping to unseat Amazon as leader, or at least close the gap.
Their efforts have been bearing fruit, judging by their performance in Q4 2019: Walmart saw a 51% jump in growth of online sales, compared to Amazon’s 31%. And while they still have a long way to go before Bezos starts losing sleep, those figures are optimistic enough for online retailers to consider it as a viable, if not opportune, option for expansion.
But breaking into the Walmart Marketplace isn’t easy. For one thing, you have to apply and be approved. And even if you pass that first hurdle, you still have to understand the best practices of this particular marketplace if you really want to thrive there.
Here, we explain everything small businesses and online retailers need to know about breaking into Walmart Marketplace: how to ace your application and what to do once you’re accepted.
Ready to grow your brand, find new customers, and make more sales, all in one place?
How to apply to Walmart Marketplace
The actual application process is pretty straight-forward: you fill out the application online here. All are welcome to apply, including dropshippers.
The application is fairly painless and takes only around 15 minutes. To help you prepare, here’s a list of official documents you’ll need:
- U.S. Business Tax ID (this is a requirement — a social security number is not enough)
- W-9 or W-8 form
- Employer Identification Number (EIN) Verification Letter from the Department of Treasury. If you don’t already have an EIN, you can apply for one online here.
- U.S. business address
- The integration method you plan to use to add your products (this Walmart infographic explains all your options)
- The total amount of SKUs you want to sell
- Verified UPCs for your products
- Product information, including prices and categories
From there, it’s just a matter of completing the right forms — although, be aware that you cannot change your responses after your application is submitted. After submitting, it takes an average of 2 weeks to hear a response.
Expert tips to get approved on Walmart Marketplace
Submitting an application is one thing, but actually getting accepted is another. Here are some reliable tips to help impress Walmart’s reviewers.
Offering the best prices is one of Walmart’s top priorities, so they’ll only accept sellers who can uphold, not hinder, this goal. Make sure your prices are competitive with what’s currently offered on Walmart.com, as well as all other online retail channels. That means doing your research beforehand and adjusting your prices accordingly.
Naturally, Walmart wants to offer different product types to satisfy any number of customer demands. Vendors selling unique, new, or hard-to-find goods are more appealing than those selling the same products already offered. Just make sure you’re not selling any items on their Prohibited Products List.
Walmart cares about the reputation of your brand as much as your products. They’ll look into your past customer service, including any public ratings or reviews you have. Make sure you’ve (amicably) settled all disputes and taken measures to optimize your ratings.
Almost as bad as poor ratings are no ratings at all. As this is a typical setback for small online retailers, we recommend using an email outreach strategy to elicit more — and better — customer reviews.
Walmart will also look into your fulfillment history for grievances like late deliveries. As a Walmart seller, you’ll represent their brand, so make sure your fulfillment record is impressive. Unlike Amazon, Walmart does not offer fulfillment services, so you’ll have to handle this area yourself, or use an unaffiliated third-party provider.
Best ways to compete against other Walmart sellers
Once you’ve received confirmation that you’ve been accepted — congratulations! But before you can start selling, you still have to finish your account registration, which includes:
- Bank account details
- Display name
- Registering a Payoneer account (Payoneer handles all Walmart transactions)
- Shipping rates — you’ll also choose whether the cost of shipping is based on “the price of the total order (tiers)” or “item weight or the number of items per order.”
- Shipping methods and regions.
Once you’re ready to start selling on Walmart Marketplace, you’ll populate your product pages and launch your marketing campaigns. But like any other online sales channel, some approaches work better than others. Here are some tips for beginners to help you get situated in your new market.
Descriptive product titles
Walmart Marketplace allows up to 200 characters for their product titles, so make good use of them all. Add descriptors like brand names and variations such as color or sizes — this not only makes it easy for customers to find what they’re looking for, it’s very beneficial to SEO as well. If you sell on other channels, using the same titles can help you maintain brand consistency.
Group variations on the same page
If your product has different variations, it’s best to list them all under the same product page. This streamlines the shopping experience and makes it easier for the shopper, which in turn increases their chances of completing a sale. In other words, the fewer pages they have to visit before finding what they want, the better.
Just be sure to include all the variations in the product title for searchability. So, if you’re selling sneakers that come in different colors, you might write it as “Black/White/Blue” in the title.
Prioritize the buy box
If the same product is sold by multiple sellers, the listing page contains all of them. However, only one can claim the “Buy Box” — when the shopper clicks “Add to Cart,” the Buy Box winner is the one whose product gets added to the cart.
Winning the Buy Box is a huge advantage, considering how many people click Add to Cart without much comparison shopping. One of the best strategies for success in the Walmart Marketplace is to consistently aim for the Buy Box.
How, exactly? A lot of it has to do with your reputation. Walmart gives priority to sellers who:
- Consistently deliver on time
- Have exemplary reviews and ratings
- Never run out of stock
- Offer free shipping
Regardless, the most important factor in winning the Buy Box is a low price. What more would you expect from the company that popularized the “Everyday Low Price” model? That’s why, if you’re selling on Walmart.com, it’s crucial to keep tabs on your competitor’s pricing. Winning the Buy Box is an ongoing endeavor, so keep your eyes peeled for competitors attempting to undercut you.
Get started with Walmart Marketplace today
Before you hastily fill out your Walmart Marketplace application, it’s best to be prepared. Here’s a quick checklist to make sure you’re ready before applying:
- Do you have all the necessary business data, including an EIN, U.S. Business Tax ID, and business address?
- Do you have UPCs for all the products you’d like to sell on Walmart?
- Do you know the best categories for the products you’d like to sell on Walmart? (Each channel has slightly different methods of categorizing products, so double-check on Walmart.com to make sure you’re using the best ones.)
- Are your public seller ratings adequate and all disputes handled?
- Have you researched your competition on Walmart.com to make sure your prices are optimized?
- Did you double-check the Prohibited Products List to make sure all your items are acceptable?
With the right preparation, your onboarding process with Walmart Marketplace will be a breeze! If past trends are any indication, now is the right time to break into Walmart.com — it’s not yet the size of Amazon, but continues to grow bigger every day. The sooner you become a part of it, the better!
Want more detailed advice about selling on Walmart? Watch our free webinar on How to Start Selling on Walmart now!