10 valuable pointers for omnichannel merchants selling through the Walmart Marketplace.
Walmart, the world’s largest general ‘brick-and-mortar’ retailer, first dipped their toes into the eCommerce pool in 2009 with the introduction of the Walmart Marketplace. At first, the Walmart Marketplace served as a supplemental outlet of additional products from a select group of affiliated retailers. There were nearly a million new products from just a handful of sellers. Walmart’s venture into eCommerce waters was relatively successful, but they were no match for the long-standing eCommerce titans, Amazon and eBay. This all changed in 2016. After the Walmart Marketplace languished for years without any new merchants or generated interest, Walmart acquired Jet.com and incorporated 8,000 new sellers into the Marketplace. The addition of these new sellers and their merchandise rejuvenated the Marketplace and the consumer public took notice.
As of this writing, there are over 150,000 third-party sellers on the Walmart Marketplace with new ones joining every day. Over 100 million shoppers visit Walmart.com each month, making them a legitimate competitor and alternative to Amazon and eBay. Selling on the Walmart Marketplace can definitely bring your business more exposure but you need to know how to get the most out of your enrollment. Here are our 10 valuable pointers for omnichannel merchants (such as yourself) to achieve success in the Walmart Marketplace.
#1: Use Your Past Successes
Unlike Amazon and eBay, Walmart has a significantly stricter vetting process for new merchants entering their Marketplace. Walmart favors credible merchants who already have an established presence on the Internet; it doesn’t have to be at a major corporate level, but you can’t be a total newbie, either. If you have, at the very least, some prior eCommerce and/or omnichannel experience, this will help you get approved quicker into the Walmart Marketplace. While this may seem like an unnecessary hassle, Walmart’s in-depth scrutinizing and evaluation of new Marketplace entries not only protects their customers (as well as themselves) from any potential scammers looking to use Walmart.com as preying grounds, it actually helps you out by adding more credibility to your name and brand by being aligned with only fellow accredited and trustworthy names and brands.
#2: Review Your Inventory
Like Amazon and eBay, Walmart isn’t a specialized retailer selling only one specific type of product or selling only to a niche demographic/field/industry. Walmart is an ‘everything and anything’ store. However, they do have guidelines as to what can be sold on their website and what’s not allowed. Review your inventory and ensure that none of your products are banned as per the Walmart Marketplace Prohibited Products Policy. Prohibited products include hazardous materials, alcohol, certain types of food, offensive products, among others. If you are a merchant that deals within a certain field, such as clothing or shoes, it’s less likely that you’ll have an item that falls under the Prohibited Products Policy but you still need to review your entire stock, nevertheless. If only a single lone item in your whole product catalog is listed as prohibited by Walmart, Walmart will deny your application to the Marketplace and you’ll need to start the enrollment process from the very beginning. Also, once you’re accepted and you upload a prohibited item, it can be discovered by Walmart and it will either be removed or actions will be taken against your merchant account, including but not limited to termination.
#3: Test Your Products Before Launch
The Walmart Marketplace allows sellers to preview their products before they go live on the site. By utilizing this feature, you will be able to test the ordering process as a customer, which will allow you to see how the interface works and practice preparing the goods for delivery before delivery. In addition, as part of the testing process, you can create a scenario where cancellations and adjustments are made. You will have a much shorter learning curve if you practice on the Walmart platform and familiarize yourself with it, instead of working with real customers, if you practice on Walmart’s platform and familiarize yourself with it.
#4: Get to Know Walmart SEO
Just like Amazon, eBay, or any eCommerce retailer worth their salt, Walmart.com offers a search bar option so that customers can find specific items directly. It is therefore crucial for you to identify keywords that customers might use when searching for your type of product and include them in your product descriptions, titles, and images. This will help your products rank higher in search results. Be careful not to stuff your product page with too many keywords, or words that are irrelevant. Just like how Google punishes content farmers for keyword stuffing and other ‘Black Hat SEO’, keyword salad and irrelevant content could force Walmart’s search algorithms to do the opposite of what’s intended and push your listings down the list and away from the most optimal positions that would net the most views from shoppers.
#5: Advertise Yourself With Walmart Performance Ads
You can advertise your products across Walmart’s website with Walmart Performance Ads (WPAs). Like Amazon ads and certain types of Google ads and eBay Promoted Listings, WPAs operate on a pay-per-click model, which means you only pay when someone clicks your advertisement. This can make advertising through Walmart more cost-effective than through over avenues of online marketing. Your ads are also sorted by relevance and keywords by Walmart’s search algorithms, which allows you to determine which location and demographic is most appropriate for your advertisement. It’s good to have a basic understanding of SEO but get to know the ins and outs of how Walmart SEO works, because unlike Google which needs to encompass the entire Internet, Walmart SEO has its own specific rules and guidelines that may not be relevant in generalized SEO.
#6: Know Your Target Audience
It’s still important to understand your audience, even if Walmart’s online advertising system sorts your listings based on relevance. Customers using the Walmart website are likely to be looking for affordable deals on everyday necessities. Try to understand the types of customers interested in your product and then fine-tune your product descriptions and copywriting to appeal to them. Some of your goods may not be suitable for this platform, which is just as important as deciding what to sell, which leads us to the next item in the list…
#7: Gauge Your Performance
If you sell through other omnichannel outlets and/or use Walmart in addition to your own eCommerce website, choose a set date span and go over your past orders. Take note of any patterns you may see such as specific items that sell better than others, pricing–both regular and sale pricing, time of the year, etc. It’s tempting (and also a lot easier) just to upload your entire catalog onto an omnichannel marketplace, but you could also be wasting a lot of space by posting items that no one buys or that no one wants to buy. Figure out your top sellers and start by posting only your most popular and successful items onto the Marketplace. If sales start happening quickly, you can begin to add other merchandise incrementally. Continue watching your hot sellers, slow sellers, and total duds. Also, pay attention to your pricing and compare with other Walmart marketplace sellers, as well as other retailers outside of Walmart. This can help turn a slow-performer into a hot seller (or, at least, a consistent seller).
#8: Offer Outstanding Customer Service
Due to the widespread presence of one-click shopping, next-day delivery deals, and 24/7 customer support in this day and age, there is a shorter tolerance level for order delays and issues resulting from the widespread use of one-click shopping and next-day delivery deals these days. The importance of customer service is becoming more and more obvious as a result of this. As soon as there is a problem, you should be able to provide your customers with an efficient and reliable level of support. Ensure that your shoppers and customers feel comfortable when shopping with you. In order for shoppers to feel confident about purchasing from your store, make sure that your product description is accurate and competitively priced–and don’t forget about the aftersales services. Even a simple follow-up can make customers feel welcome and appreciated. People will be more likely to return to a company that appears to care about them if they have a good experience. The likelihood of this happening exponentially increases if your service goes above and beyond the expectations of your customers.
#9: Win the Buy Box
Like Amazon, the Walmart Marketplace also has an option for its omnichannel merchants to claim a ‘Buy Box’. The ‘Buy Box’ enables customers to add a product to their shopping cart or to purchase it instantly by clicking the button next to the product on the list. A “Buy Box” button on any eCommerce website will result in the most sales generation for any given seller and product in that particular eCommerce site. In the Walmart Marketplace, it’s possible for multiple vendors to sell the exact same product, but only one of them may link their product to the ‘Buy Box’ button. Walmart, by default, gets the first crack on items sold by multiple vendors but for all else, the winner of the ‘Buy Box’ improves their chances of netting a large share of the sales for that particular product. You want to be that merchant to claim the Walmart ‘Buy Box’. In order to win the “Buy Box,” a multitude of factors must be considered, including price, reviews, and inventory. Examine and sort through your inventory, pricing, and even the listings themselves to help your chances in becoming eligible for the ‘Buy Box’.
#10: Try Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS)
As Amazon and Walmart eternally battle for the eCommerce crown, it’s easy to understand that both companies would mirror each other not only in pricing and product selection but even down to the exact services and types of service offered. Yes, it’s a case of ‘monkey see, monkey do’ but when the competition is this heated and the competitors themselves are so gargantuan in scale, it’s easily understandable. Comparable to Amazon’s Fulfillment by Amazon service (FBA) is Walmart’s own Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS). With WFS, you can outsource inventory management for a fee as part of an order fulfillment service that Walmart themselves provide. Whenever a customer places an order with a seller using WFS, Walmart handles the order for them. Walmart fulfills the order, manages returns, and provides customer service all on the seller’s behalf. You can focus on the most important aspects of your business while your shipping is expertly handled by WFS. Seamless shipping processes, returns, customer service, inventory management, and storage are made available to you through a Walmart fulfillment center. Additionally, Walmart partners with some of the best shipping companies (such as Deliverr) to guarantee 2-day delivery. The pricing structure of WFS is simple and affordable, making it a cost-effective fulfillment solution.