After years of quietly growing its Marketplace, Walmart publicly launched its self-service advertising platform in January 2020. As the second-largest online retailer in the U.S., with a sizable Marketplace and strong assortment across independent sellers and name-brand manufacturers, Walmart is poised to be an emerging player in digital advertising and a viable channel for brands expanding beyond Amazon — especially for advertisers who invest early.
In this post, we sat down with (Walmart advertising guru) Elizabeth Marsten, Senior Director of Strategic Marketplace Services at Tinuiti to get the inside scoop on why so many marketers are now asking, “What about Walmart?”
Q. Why is Walmart considered a big opportunity for ecommerce marketers in 2020?
A. 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.
Not long ago, doubt was cast on Walmart’s ability to ramp up its ecommerce game. However, in the last 12 months, we’ve seen Walmart’s ecommerce strategy begin to pay off – just check out the stats:
- In 2019, there were 33,000 Walmart Marketplace sellers, a 51% increase from 2018 YoY.
- As of April 2020, Walmart continued its growth by eclipsing 40,000+ sellers.
- Almost 60% of Amazon purchasers also shop on Walmart’s Marketplace.
- Six of Walmart’s ecommerce distribution centers (when combined with ship/pick up from stores) online orders can now meet the coveted 2-day delivery expectations.
- Walmart was also the most downloaded app on Black Friday 2019 and today nearly 110 million shoppers (per month) use Walmart.com.
Q. What are the benefits of advertising on Walmart’s Marketplace?
A. Today, Walmart presents a viable and promising opportunity for brands to expand beyond Amazon. The functionality and performance of Walmart’s self-service advertising platform mirrors much of what we saw with Amazon Sponsored Products when it launched in 2014 (a program where early investors had huge competitive advantages).
The 3 main benefits of advertising on Walmart that come to mind include:
- Increased discoverability through advertising assists with organic rank
- Struggling or low performing SKUs can improve visibility
- Seasonal products can take advantage of seasonality spikes, faster
One specific call-out is Walmart’s ecommerce grocery growth. Walmart has made significant strides with their in-store pick up model (Walmart Grocery Pickup) by leveraging its massive network of over 4,700 physical stores. Additionally, Walmart is planning on launching its own paid subscription service called Walmart+, which the company has been keeping under wraps until very recently.
The good news is Walmart’s investments into its ecommerce grocery offering appear to be paying off: the retail giant’s grocery shopper growth accelerated to 33% in 2018, compared to just 26% the year prior. This growth places Walmart ahead of Amazon in grocery ecommerce for the first time as they continue to invest in their omnichannel grocery capabilities.
Q. Why did Tinuiti decide to launch a “Walmart eCommerce Acceleration Program” and what does it consist of?
A. Tinuiti’s Walmart eCommerce Acceleration Program is one of the first Walmart Advertising & Creative offerings in the market. The full-service program is designed to apply Tinuiti’s proven methodology with Sponsored Product advertising and performance-driven brand creative to profitably grow a brand’s sales on Walmart.
Our program includes Walmart Advertising, Walmart Creative, and Walmart Operations Consulting. Here’s a breakdown:
Walmart Advertising [What We Do]
- Campaign creation and / or restructuring for Sponsored Products (auto and manual)
- Budgeting, bid, and keyword management
- Customized reporting that sits outside of the Walmart Advertising UI
- Work directly with our clients on overall strategy, budgeting, merchandising, and audience targeting for Walmart Media Group (Display / Media buys).
- Partner with specialists for catalog management and delivery/fulfillment capabilities to ensure our clients are making the most of their marketing efforts
Walmart Creative [What We Do]
- Execute on writing and / or rewriting unique copy that is optimized for Walmart’s platform
- Drive detail page conversion rates through creating and installing enriched content modules
- Oversee connection to the Rich Media API, which is needed for using enriched content
- Update and improve client product images by adding callouts and text overlays (with the goal of increasing conversion rates)
Walmart Operations Consulting [What We Do]
- Train in-house teams in Walmart’s Retail Link and Seller Center
- Assist with inventory planning and forecasting
- PO management and product listing setup (including enhanced product content)
- Fee and chargeback analysis
Q. What are the benefits of Tinuiti’s Walmart eCommerce Acceleration Program?
A. 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.
For current Walmart Marketplace Sellers and Vendors, the benefits of working with Tinuiti include our unique advertising strategy, proprietary technology and ad creative (optimized for Walmart’s platform).
- Advertising: Tinuiti’s deep marketplace experience enables brands to scale their Walmart ad program before the competition.
- Technology: Tinuiti has proprietary Walmart advertising technology that enables more granular ad campaign buildouts, effective bidding, and reporting that informs next-best-dollar management.
- Creative: We can also help brands launch creative optimized for Walmart. This includes titles, feature bullets, and descriptions will be customized for Walmart’s unique search algorithm; rich media like enhanced content and comparison tables can be created for Walmart’s specifications.
Q. Is Walmart at the same maturity as Amazon or Google advertising?
A. Walmart.com is not yet at the scale of Amazon and Google, however, there are still benefits to exploring this market to gain both immediate value and future rewards. If you set realistic expectations as to what Walmart.com can deliver and be more open to experimentation, it’s possible to have solid returns on your ad spend on this platform.
At Tinuiti we see similarities in Walmart’s ad platform compared to Amazon (you can read more it here). Advertising on Walmart plays a key role in creating scalable growth and will, like Amazon, have a positive effect on organic search rankings as well.
Q. What does the Walmart Marketplace onboarding process look like and how do I apply?
A. 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 reputation, sales projections, and alignment with Walmart’s values. It is really dependent on how fast the seller can complete the integration process without errors or setbacks. In some cases, you can expedite the process by working with an official Walmart Solution Provider.
If you want to learn more about your qualifications for Tinuiti’s Walmart Marketing Program, drop us a line.
Q. Can you offer our readers any Walmart.com advertising best practices for 2020?
A. In order to get the most value from your Walmart.com advertisements, we recommend making careful use of the automated campaigns. Automated campaigns can perform better over time than manual campaigns, but you need to have at least 10 SKUs in the product group at the start and tight controls with a minimum bid and ad budgets. Remember – it’s a first-price auction, meaning what you bid is what you’ll pay! (Amazon and Google are the second price.)
Also, automated campaigns have the potential to take off very quickly, due to them being eligible for more placements, so don’t set and forget. Check on your campaigns daily at the start. If you’re running manual campaigns, start with keywords from the “Suggested Keywords” tab. They’re listed in descending order of relevance according to Walmart, so starting with the top of the list will give you better results than the ones below–and probably better than any long-tail keywords you add yourself.
Walmart requires a minimum budget of $1,000 per lifetime of a campaign – that’s what you have to input, but not necessarily what you’ll spend. You’ll want to set aside at least $2,000/month for your initial test. Be realistic with your expectations and don’t simply copy over content from different channels. Create ad content unique for Walmart.com.
Q. What do you want brands who are interested in Walmart’s Marketplace to know?
A. There’s pretty much not a human in the U.S. that doesn’t know what Walmart is and chances are, lives within 15 miles of one (90% of the continental U.S. population can get to one of 4,769 locations).
Walmart also invested over $1 billion into its ecommerce business in the last year and is reporting significant double-digit growth, quarter over quarter, most being attributed to online efforts and grocery pick-up. That’s some pretty significant ground made in the last year – but the immediate opportunity in front of us today is the Sponsored Products ad unit for Marketplace sellers.
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.
For more information, check out our Walmart resources page.