While Amazon is still the king of ecommerce, many brands are seeing opportunities by also selling on Walmart’s rapidly expanding marketplace.
Walmart’s online marketplace now consists of over 33,000 sellers that span 52 million product SKUs, self-service advertising capabilities and more. Selling on the Walmart marketplace becomes all the more essential when you consider the fact that 57% of Amazon shoppers shop on Walmart.com.
Here’s a guide on how to sell on Walmart.com, using Walmart Seller Center, product listing qualifications, and how brands are using Walmart advertising to drive sales.
“Walmart.com has come a long way in a short time in terms of marketplace capabilities; in the types of targeting, ad types, reporting, and the sophistication of the platform overall. Brands looking for ecommerce growth beyond Amazon should consider the opportunity of selling on Walmart’s online marketplace.”
— Elizabeth Marsten, Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti
Jump to a section
- Why Sell on Walmart.com?
- How to Sell on Walmart.com
- How to Use Walmart Seller Center
- How Much Does It Cost to Sell on the Walmart Marketplace?
- Shipping & Customer Service on the Walmart Marketplace
- How to Boost Sales When Selling on Walmart.com
- Optimizing Your Walmart Product Listings
- Challenges of Selling on Walmart Marketplace
- How Tinuiti Helps Brands Sell on Walmart
Walmart is one of the fastest-growing marketplaces and continues to roll out features that make it easier for sellers and brands to reach Walmart’s enormous customer base. It’s also becoming an important brand-building tool; sellers who are able to replicate their Amazon efforts on Walmart see about 20% of their Amazon volume in sales on Walmart.
- Walmart’s 2019 Q1 results showed a 37% growth in ecommerce sales (Amazon was up 10%)
- Walmart has invested over $1 billion in digital during 2019
- Walmart now has six e-commerce distribution centers that when combined with in-store pickup/ship from store services for online orders can meet 2-day delivery expectations
- Most downloaded app on Black Friday 2019
- Over 110 million shoppers per month use Walmart.com
“The Walmart Marketplace boasts over 110 million visitors, which can help expand your potential customer audience and reach new audiences. There could be shoppers on Walmart.com who aren’t Prime members and married to Amazon.”
– Jason Boyce, Co-Founder and CEO of Dazadi
“Walmart has quickly become our second-largest online marketplace, second only to Amazon.com. We feel that it exposes our brand to a different kind of customer base than what we see from Amazon and or our own site.”
A Rapidly Growing Marketplace
We’ve also seen Walmart scale up product selection and gain access to Millennials and Gen Z-ers with a string of strategic acquisitions of digital native brands. Additionally, Walmart is taking on Amazon Prime with free two-day shipping minus the membership fee, and recently announced they would even offer one-day free shipping without membership.
There were about 310 million unique visitors a month on Walmart.com in 2019, peaking during the previous holiday season at just under 500 million.
Shoppers also are beginning to see Walmart’s online marketplace as a real alternative to Amazon. According to eMarketer, a whopping 26% of all U.S. shoppers planned to use Walmart for shopping during the 2019 holiday season.
There are also some unique benefits to selling using Walmart’s ecommerce platform, Walmart Seller Center.
If you are not selected to be a vendor, you must apply to be a Walmart.com seller via Walmart’s website.
The Walmart Seller Approval Process
To start selling on Walmart.com as an approved Walmart Seller, you will need to complete a five-step approval process.
This process includes: Application, Contract, Registration, Onboarding, and a final review.
From there, the Walmart Marketplace team will review your application (may take up to two weeks), and a Business Development Manager will reach out and assist you with the verification process.
If you’re approved, you’ll sign the Retailer Agreement and start onboarding, which typically takes up to four weeks.
The following information is required in the application:
- General contact information (name, email, company name, website, etc.)
- Business information
- Product assortment information
- Ecommerce and marketplace experience
- Operations information
Qualifications to sell on the Walmart Marketplace
There’s no magic formula for being accepted into Walmart’s seller program, but there are a few key requirements that brands and retailers should fit. These include the following:
Reputation: Most likely revolved around brand awareness, brand equity, and other factors related to your brand’s positioning in your industry. “First-class customer service” and “fast and reliable fulfillment” appear to be important considerations. Another factor that can have an impact on your success is your ability to fulfill and ship orders, especially if you want your products to feature Walmart’s 2-day shipping badge.
Sales Projections: Is listing on Walmart.com a good fit for both you and Walmart, based on sales history and forecasting? Unique product assortment and competitive pricing are weighing factors, as are current sales.
Alignment with Walmart’s values: A spokesperson for Walmart ecommerce supplemented the qualifications on their website with “Walmart.com is an invitation-only marketplace. We select sellers based on experience, scale and reputation related quality of assortment, the strength of pricing, and customer service track record.”
“The four weeks mentioned in onboarding is really dependent on how fast the seller can complete the order testing scenarios without errors or setbacks. In some cases, you can expedite the process by working with an official Walmart Solution Provider, such as SellerActive.”
– Elizabeth Marsten, Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti
It can take several months to get approved, and the Walmart team is not quite as communicative as you’d expect during this process. If you aren’t approved, it’s likely you won’t hear conclusively for several months, so you’ll need to be patient.
Walmart’s Seller Center is its self-service platform used for uploading and managing your product listings and fulfilling orders.
Here’s how you can get started:
1. Log Into Walmart Seller Center
One thing to keep in mind as you navigate Walmart Seller Center.
2. Select Products You Want to Sell on Walmart.com
Obviously, you will want to start with some of your top-selling products. But keep in mind you’re dealing with customers who will value low prices most.
Additionally, you should know there are some products that are not allowed, despite Walmart’s claim that “You can sell just about anything on our site”. Like Amazon, Walmart has a hefty list of prohibited or restricted products.
- Used products
- Drugs and medical devices
You can view the full list of prohibited items on the Walmart site.
3. Build Your Product Content Feed on Walmart.com
Items can be uploaded in three different ways:
- Via the Walmart API
- As a bulk upload using Excel spreadsheets
- By collaboration with a Walmart channel partner (ex. companies specializing in listing products on the Walmart.com marketplace)
If you’d like to go with the third option, here are a couple feed management options you might want to investigate:
Next, you’ll need to ensure you’re in line with Walmart.com’s content and imagery guidelines.
4. Upload the Correct Product Content on Walmart.com
As we’ve mentioned before, one important distinction is that Walmart’s product detail pages—unlike Amazon’s—aren’t brand protected. Instead, it’s based on a first-come-first-serve system.
If a Walmart seller has an item that competes with the same item also being sold by Walmart, or competes directly with another seller, an algorithm will select a Primary Content Provider (PCP).
Walmart.com will use the PCP’s content and imagery for the product listing, even if your product wins the buy box. Your item content will only be displayed if you are the sole seller of that item.
The same content rules apply to variant groups. If two sellers (one of which can be Walmart) are each selling variants of a product, overlapping variants will be grouped together as one listing.
If a single product has multiple SKUs, think colors or sizes, all of the variants can be listed on one product page. For a product with a single variant (color) there is a 50-100 variant limit to what can be featured on one page. Multi-variant products have a 500 variant limit. This applies to an item with 5 sizes and 100 color options, for example.
It’s very important to have the right details in your product listings. We’ve heard that Walmart is changing their requirements for images, particularly for fashion products.
Here are the data points you should include in your file, including both required and conditional.
Required Walmart Product Listing Content Details
- Product name
- Product long description
- Product short description
- Primary product image
- End date
- Manufacturer name
- Partner Item ID
- Item price
- Product tax code
- Origin of components
- Must ship alone
- Availability code
Conditional Walmart Product Listing Details
- Small parts warning code
- Composite wood warning code
- Manufacturer item number
- Shipping weight
- Warranty length
- Supplier warranty
- Certified item
- On hand quantity
- Street date
- General certification of conformity
You can manage content in bulk using Walmart’s Category Templates.
If you’d prefer to outsource to a Content Service Provider (CSP), you can check out some of Walmart’s approved CSPs.
Note Walmart may send written requests for more information about your products, and you must comply. Additionally, there is the caveat that they may change these requirements at will, so stay on top of your messages from Walmart.com.
You can learn more about each of these product listing requirements in the Walmart Marketplace Seller Agreement Doc.
How Product Listings Appear on the Walmart Marketplace
You’ve done the hard work of uploading your product data. Now, let’s examine how Walmart’s products show up on the search results page.
After a query is entered, the search results page will display the marketplace’s listings for products displayed on the standard result page.
Shoppers can refine searches by category, shipping and pickup options, size, color, brand, retailer, special offers available, and price. Shoppers also have the option to search by “Store Availability”, giving them the ability to check stock and pick up a product at a nearby Walmart (similar to Target and other big box retailers).
When a user clicks into a product’s page, they’ll see not only product information, but also a product information section that resembles Amazon’s EBC premium content sections:
If you want to create stylized content such as the one above, but don’t have either the resources or time, you can partner with one of Walmart’s full-service Content Studio Service Providers (CSSPs) to create item pages.
Also like Amazon, customer reviews on these pages are not integrated with third-party review systems – they are generated on Walmart.com alone.
Amazon’s organic search results pages are battlegrounds where sellers jockey to rank organically for keywords, and invest in sponsored product ads that seamlessly fit with the organic listings.
Walmart has stated in their FAQs that investing in sponsored products can increase organic ranking. Products with view and purchase history increase relevancy for those terms in particular that the user searched or clicked on. Struggling or new SKUs can use advertising to give their organic listings a jump start in gathering historical data and increase visibility in the Walmart search engine results pages.
Sellers on the marketplace must pay Walmart a referral fee per sale, which varies by product category. There are no additional charges.
Here’s a full list of Walmart’s referral fee percentages by category:
- Apparel & Accessories 15%
- Automotive & Powersports 12%
- Baby 15%
- Beauty 15%
- Books 15%
- Camera & Photo 8%
- Cell Phones 8%
- Consumer Electronics 8%
- Electronics Accessories 15%
- Furniture & Decor 15%
- Gourmet Food 15%
- Grocery 15%
- Health & Personal Care 15%
- Home & Garden 15%
- Industrial & Scientific 12%
- Jewelry 20%
- Kitchen 15%
- Luggage & Travel Accessories 15%
- Major Appliances 8%
- Music 15%
- Musical Instruments 12%
- Office Products 15%
- Outdoors 15%
- Personal Computers 6%
- Pet Supplies 15%
- Shoes, Handbags & Sunglasses 15%
- Software & Computer Video Games 15%
- Sporting Goods 15%
- Tires & Wheels 10%
- Tools & Home Improvement 12%
- Toys & Games 15%
- Video & DVD 15%
- Video Game Consoles 8%
- Video Games 15%
- Watches 15%
- Everything else 15%
How Sellers Get Paid on Walmart.com
There are three things you should know about getting paid on the Walmart Marketplace:
- Sellers agree to payment terms and schedule in the Marketplace Retailer Agreement, though they are typically paid on a weekly basis for orders occurring during the period.
- Sellers are paid the total amount from sale of products minus Walmart’s referral fees.
- Periods end on Mondays at midnight (PST), which means sellers can typically expect funds to be dispersed by noon (PST) the following Wednesday.
After a customer places an order, Walmart enacts an authorization hold on the order until the seller confirms the product has been shipped.
Once this is completed, Walmart.com will debit the customer account. This means sales are reported on the shipping date, not on the order creation date.
Pricing Products on Walmart.com
You can see the price parity requirement within Walmart’s Seller Agreement doc:
…except for in connection with Excluded Offers, the purchase price and every other term of offer and/or sale of the Products (including associated shipping and handling charges and options, any “low price” guarantee, rebate or discount, any free or discounted products or other benefit available as a result of purchasing one or more other products, and terms of applicable return and refund policies) is at least as favorable to Walmart.com users as the most favorable terms upon which a product is offered and/or sold via any other online sales channel.
This is no doubt Walmart is working to ensure a customer never finds a product on Amazon that isn’t cheaper on Walmart.com.
If you don’t maintain price parity, you will be penalized on Walmart.com.
One seller describes their predicament when products are not always compliant:
“Often out of nowhere, Walmart will delist an item…They are constantly removing items due to pricing. They crawl Amazon and eBay, and who knows where else and if they believe they found a lower price, they drop the item from their catalog.”
Walmart support may reach out to a seller with a letter that looks like this:
The remaining SKUs on your list were unpublished due to a business decision. Please keep in mind, title, description, images and key features play a big role of determining the item’s compatibility. Walmart is entering more restricted relationships with some brands and manufacturers. Walmart is also restricting some items to be sold only by first party suppliers. Working closely with these first party suppliers allows Walmart to ensure that, over time, customers will get the best price. I have listed those SKUs below for your reference.
Make sure you keep tabs on your product prices across multiple platforms. This goes for data, too—Walmart pays attention to the content you provide them vs. the content on your website or another.
Paying Taxes for Products Sold on Walmart.com
While remitting taxation is your individual responsibility, Walmart.com will collect sales tax on your behalf if desired.
According to Walmart.com, you can use partner tools in the Seller Center to “identify which tax codes and jurisdiction apply, and Walmart.com handles the rest.”
Shipping & Customer Service on the Walmart Marketplace
Fulfillment / Shipping
If you are a first-party seller, you can ship directly to a Walmart fulfillment center and let them take care of the rest.
Third-party sellers on the Walmart.com marketplace are responsible for handling shipping, exchanges, returns, and customer service.
Since Walmart sellers are responsible for fulfillment, they can enter their shipping costs along with their product listings, with free shipping being an option. Sellers can set shipping costs by one of two methods:
- Tiered Pricing: Shipping is charged based on the price of the item. A different rate can be applied for different price ranges.
- Item/Weight Pricing: Shipping is calculated based on the weight (in pounds) of the item purchased or based on the number of units ordered.
Based on the shipping model chosen, Walmart sellers then enter expected transit times and shipping costs. Updates can be made at the item level, and offering multiple shipping methods will grant customers the option of upgrading their shipping. This will enable them to receive their product faster if desired, which can greatly assist in the buying process.
Fast shipping is key especially now that Walmart is rolling out free one-day shipping soon.
Walmart has also established a direct integration with Deliverr – which is a network of warehouses that can acts similarly to Amazon’s FBA, where sellers can “store” inventory, as little as four units in a location around the country to be able to meet and qualify for the 2-Day ship badge on Walmart listings.
When a customer places an order for a product on Walmart.com, the order is added to the seller’s queue located in the Seller Center platform. It will contain the necessary information for correctly shipping the order to the customer. The seller is responsible for frequently checking their queue for new orders and making sure they are properly and promptly fulfilled. For sellers using the Walmart.com API, Walmart expects acknowledgement of an order within one hour.
Fast shipping is key. Not only do sellers not get paid until the item is shipped, but it’s important to ship quickly to keep your metrics up. Here’s one seller’s take:
“One key thing with [Walmart.com] is to ship within a day or two max. We use Geekseller to tie into their API for order and shipment status updates.”
Unlike Amazon.com which offers FBA choices, 3P sellers on Walmart.com are responsible entirely for fulfillment, including managing and supporting customer service inquiries, shipping, exchanges, and returns.
While this will entail additional work on the seller’s behalf, it does give them more control over the fulfillment process. Some sellers prefer to work with a partner (such as Deliverr) to support their catalog with third-party fulfillment services.
If Walmart.com believes an order is fraudulent, it will not be released to the seller and the customer will receive a cancellation email. Cancellations are final. Once an order is canceled–by either party–it cannot be reversed or shipped.
This includes those times when a shopper cancels an order, and you must do everything you can (that’s “commercially reasonable”) to halt shipping to that individual.
Returns and Refunds
When a seller signs up for the Walmart.com marketplace, they are required to write a <4000 character return policy. Since sellers are responsible for fulfillment and customer service, they are able to dictate their return policies, as long as it is transparent to customers.
While you might not be able to dramatically influence your organic rank on Walmart, there are several factors that could dramatically influence your sales:
- Low product price (and subsequent buy box ownership)
- Customer reviews
- Meet customer expectations/Walmart requirements
- Optimized product listing information (requirements listed under “Upload the Correct Product Information on Walmart.com” section)
- Advertising – sponsored products, display
There are several factors that could dramatically influence your sales.
None of these have been explicitly confirmed by the Walmart team, but if our work on other marketplace channels is any indicator, these factors may determine your sales.
1. Win the Walmart Marketplace Buy Box
When Walmart.com opened its marketplace to 3P sellers, they introduced buy box competition to their products:
The Walmart.com buy box appears to be primarily influenced by price (selling price+shipping), which Walmart, if a seller of the product, will usually have the lowest.
It appears Walmart’s buy box algorithm has the price as a very heavily-weighted variable; Amazon’s algorithm calculates in more factors.
While the buy box includes the option to compare with other sellers, it’s likely that most shoppers don’t investigate that option, just as they don’t on Amazon.
2. Generate Stellar Customer Reviews
If available, customer reviews of the product will appear under the price. These are reviews submitted to and stored by Walmart.com, not by third-party reviews.
While we can’t prove that Walmart.com takes customer reviews into account on a search, it’s important to note that some site visitors may search by average review. If that’s the case, these product reviews could really impact your sales.
3. Meet Seller Requirements for Customer Service and Shipping
Just as an Amazon seller must sell up to Amazon’s standards, you’ll need to make sure you’re upholding Walmart’s shipping and customer service standards. Otherwise, you’ll risk suspension.
- On-time ship standard = at least 99%
- Accurate products shipped = 99.5% all products shipped
- Cancel rate = <1.5%
- Returns due to damaged or defective products = <3% of sales proceeds for products sold
- Emergency updates related to product information via Partner Tools = <.03%
- 90 Day Seller Rating = >90% positive
- Customer service escalations = <0.5% of all orders
- Confirm every order file received by Walmart.com within one hour of receipt, 24/7
- Confirm every order line within every order file within 4 hours, 24/7
- Provide electronic notice confirming shipment of shipping product and tracking information within 4 hours, 24/7
- Refund requests sent within 24 hours of receiving a customer refund or adjustment request
- Answer at least 60% of all customer calls within 60 seconds of the end of Retailer’s customer service interactive voice response
- No more than 4% of all customer calls received shall be abandoned
- 90% of emails received from customers should be answered within 24 hours
Note: All requirements shared via this Seller Agreement Doc. We’ll update as frequently as we can, but this is subject to change at any time.
4. Advertise on Walmart.com
Ads are a great way to promote your products on Walmart.com above organic results.
There are several reasons why sellers should advertise on Walmart.com:
- Increased visibility and discoverability through advertising assists with an organic presence on Walmart.com
- New sellers and products can drive sales through advertising
- Struggling or low performing SKUs can improve visibility
- Seasonal products can take advantage of seasonality spikes, faster
All featured/sponsored product sections operate on a cost-per-click (CPC) pricing model. Advertisers are charged only when a user clicks on the ad and is forwarded to the ad’s landing page.
If you want to learn more about how you can drive ecommerce growth through Walmart’s expanding advertising platform, check out Stay Ahead in 2020: Advertising on the Growing Walmart Marketplace.
Walmart’s in house advertising offerings have been growing, as documented by multiple media outlets. On the external ad side, the biggest advantage Walmart Media Group has is its combined data of in-store and online customer sales data, via the Walmart Media Group (WMG).
Walmart Media Group functions in a way similar to Amazon’s AAP network and is geared towards advertising on other websites.
5. Optimize Your Walmart Product Listing Page Content
Understanding Walmart’s style guide for product listings and taking advantage of all inputs to create optimized listings can have an enormous impact on your catalog performance.
Optimizing your product listings can result in:
- Higher Conversion Rates
- Increased Revenue
- Improved Discoverability
- Higher External Search Rankings
As a Walmart seller, you have an opportunity to optimize product listings and product visuals to create better customer and brand experience on Walmart’s marketplace.
Product titles, descriptions, images, variants, and more can all impact conversion rates, revenue, and even your product search rankings.
“Detailed content is the best way to convey the value proposition of your product to the consumer. A Walmart shopper is much more likely to convert on a product online when it has clear and concise information regarding its use.”
— Megan MacDonald, Senior Advertising Account Manager
Here are some best practices for making the most of your Walmart product listing content:
- Be concise
- Tell the value proposition of your products to make them stand out
- Utilize and repeat relevant keywords, but do not use the same keyword more than three times
- Use an active voice
- Include images that show your product in use
- Add video if your product category allows it
- Don’t forget to add product attributes, tagging, and backend keywords via Walmart Seller Center
For a detailed list of Walmart’s style guide and product listing algorithm you can view Walmart’s Content & SEO Knowledge base here.
While Walmart has made strides as a platform, there are still many challenges that brands face when transitioning to Walmart’s marketplace.
Potentially Lower Margins
As mentioned above, you’ll likely see lower margins on the Walmart Marketplace than you would on Amazon or via your ecommerce site.
“Walmart.com offers ecommerce retailers a value proposition very similar to that it offers traditional sellers,” says Boyce. “[One example would be] high sales volume, though margins will likely be lower.”
You can select carriers, shipping methods, and shipping prices (there are five methods available). Orders “must be shipped in non-branded packaging and can’t include materials from any company other than Walmart.”
This does limit sellers who want to include materials to promote brand awareness and drive loyalty, and there’s a hidden message here as well. Some sellers have attempted to use FBA to fulfill Walmart’s orders, which is a big no-no.
Sellers with their own warehouse and shipping operations or third-party partnerships clearly have a leg up in the Walmart game.
Potential Listing Issues
Walmart uses a unified catalog system that is essentially first-come-first-serve. What this means is that the first seller to list a product on the site is likely to be the home base for other sellers also selling that product.
According to some sellers, brand owners may find their Universal Product Code (UPCs) or Global Trade Item Number (GTINs) are already listed on product pages and may have little control over listing alterations. Those products with the same UPC are presented together on the site.
The use of single UPCs can result in some troublesome issues. Here’s one seller’s experience:
“…I’ve also [run] into issues where I want to sell a single count of an item…I go to enter in the UPC from its packaging only to find out someone already is already using that UPC as a multi-pack, which now makes it impossible to sell the item as a single.”
Delayed Seller Support
Amazon Seller Support has gotten a bad rap for being unresponsive, but sellers on the Walmart marketplace have noticed it’s much worse on Walmart.com. Here’s one seller’s experience:
“Support on Walmart is pretty much non existent. Seller support is even more useless than AMZ. At least you can talk to or chat with Amazon support. Email is the only option with [Walmart].”
Stringent Pricing Requirements
Sellers are allowed to list their own prices for products on Walmart.com. However, some Walmart sellers have found that their products have been delisted for price competition elsewhere.
Walmart is making strides in the right direction by working to expand its ecommerce platform and marketing capabilities — but brands can still find that navigating the marketplace and leveraging the right strategies is a challenge.
Sellers looking to make the most of their Walmart operations shouldn’t have to go it alone — which is why Tinuiti’s marketplace experts are here to help.
Here’s why you should consider Tinuiti’s Walmart Ecommerce program:
- Marketplace advertising expertise and experience. Tinuiti has a long history of adopting and growing clients with advertising on marketplace channels.
- Tinuiti has a proven methodology of campaign structure, keyword optimization and product promotion in marketplace advertising and developing a unique to Walmart approach.
- Pricing that grows with the client’s success – we’re investing with you, in this new-to-market platform.
- Tinuiti is working directly with Walmart as a partner in product development and business development to improve functionality, features, and scalability of its products to drive results for sellers and advertisers.
If you want to learn more about our Walmart services, drop us a line and we’ll be in touch!
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