At some point, just about every company that sells at the retail level will have two questions:
- How do I become a Walmart supplier?
- How do I succeed once Walmart is carrying my items?
In fact, for many eZCom customers, adding Walmart as a trading partner is a true tipping point, a moment when their brands grow to a new level. After all, the world’s largest retailer has the power to deliver huge sales volume and broad exposure, and success for Walmart suppliers can be transformational.
Let’s start with EDI for Walmart.
EDI for Walmart is vitally important. Mistakes, delays, missed deliveries—your EDI process needs to be part of a seamless supply chain when you work with Walmart.
The good news? We have the technology and experience to ensure suppliers meet their specific EDI requirements. Getting brands set up for EDI success with Walmart, including providing assistance through the testing process, is something we’ve been doing for years. Once a company is a Walmart supplier, we know how to help them avoid errors and costly chargebacks.
It’s proven that seamless EDI transactions help build productive, lasting relationships. That’s true when you work with any retailer, but if Walmart is a key part of your growth strategy, you want to do everything you can to make transactions error-free and seamless.
Ideally, you have your EDI process in place before you even begin your Walmart outreach. While its retail footprint is massive, the company is agile and moves quickly when it makes buying decisions. Having error-free EDI means you can be ready for that first order, and begin to build the foundation of a rewarding trading partner relationship.
With EDI in place, how do you become a Walmart supplier?
Becoming a Walmart supplier doesn’t happen with the wave of a magic wand. Not every vendor gets invited to sell their products at a store that produces volume on a scale that is rivaled only by Amazon. And while the selection offered to shoppers appears enormous, the retailer can be choosy about which brands it carries.
A good place to start learning about the Walmart process is supplierwiki.supplypike.com. This site was developed and is managed by Supply-Pike, a Northwest Arkansas-based software company that is well-versed in the ecosystem of the giant retailer. By consolidating some of the most valuable information for suppliers—everything from machine learning-driven demand planning to inventory and sales overviews—it provides valuable insights that will improve your chances of winning a spot on the store’s shelves.
If it all seems a bit overwhelming, remember that Walmart is open to new brands and different products. They review the data they collect constantly, and are quick to replace slower-moving moving items with new selections. The product mix in their stores is far more fluid than many people realize, and they are open to pitches from smaller suppliers. If you understand and follow the process, or work with companies that have expertise in it, your brand has a legitimate chance to earn a place on the shelves or online channels of Walmart.
Inspiration and excitement
It’s no surprise that Walmart has a wealth of information available—the company sells millions of products, all over the world, in its stores and online, every single day of the year.
It’s a massive enterprise, and it goes big on data.
The challenge? Few companies have the in-house resources to interpret all of it. Typically, it’s only the largest organizations that can staff and develop teams that take data and turn it into quantifiable actions to help drive sales. And even many well-known brands don’t have the kind of sophisticated analytics that is required to digest the vast amounts of available information into real-time metrics and KPIs.
But Walmart relies heavily on this data when it makes decisions, so it’s important that suppliers have a deep analysis of their supply chain data.
What’s more, all that information is extremely valuable to suppliers—at least the ones that know how to take advantage of it. For many, powerful analytics software is a vital asset when it comes to growing their Walmart business.
Supply-Pike President TJ Sangam explains.
“Walmart is more open to ideas than many suppliers realize—you can actually suggest things to them. But you want to be armed with the best information. One element in our offering is taking lists of Walmart locations and matching them up against data collected by the United States Census. When you overlay the information, it reveals additional stores that match your demographics and would be good places for your product. That’s the kind of information Walmart will use to make decisions about your product, and you can bring it to them.”
Supply-Pike works with brands of all sizes, mining the trove of data collected by the retailer to help suppliers make good decisions, pitch ideas, and enjoy greater profits through sales in Walmart channels. They find correlations, uncover predictive trends,and study supply chain activity to produce actionable insights.
“When it comes to Walmart and data, it’s a problem of excess not deprivation,” Sangam added. “Machine learning thrives on large quantities of data. With it, we can analyze and ingest everything and tell suppliers specific areas they need to improve or identify opportunities they’re missing.”
Sangam notes that while all retailers have troves of data, Walmart gets extremely granular with it. Sales numbers aren’t just reported daily, but often hourly. For most suppliers, the barrier to using data for Walmart is not accessing it but having the capabilities and resources to gain insight from it. Trying to do it internally may seem cost-effective, but it is hardly efficient and extremely time-consuming.
How to maintain your place on Walmart shelves.
You already know that seamless EDI is essential for a productive relationship with Walmart. But this is a company that prizes accuracy in every piece of information, and the suppliers who grow sales with the retailer consistently deliver it.
Labels need to be error-free. Inventory numbers must be updated regularly and reliably. If you sell a food product, you need to provide all the necessary information and ensure the producer is Walmart-certified.
These are just a few examples. As a general rule, there needs to be a thorough understanding of the data that’s available. It’s not always easy, since many suppliers are brand experts and not logistics pros or number crunchers.
Remember that Walmart is invested in your success—it’s good for them if your products sell well. To make that happen consistently, supply chain friction needs to be eliminated. As Sangam notes, “…pay attention to the metrics—on-time, in-stocks, sell-throughs, Year-Over-Year, deductions or chargebacks.”
While the company does have considerable supplier turnover, it will also stick with brands that sell reliably and deliver on time. Remember that the practice of OTIF—On-Time and In-Full—was introduced by Walmart. Holding inventory for the least amount of time possible is an essential element of their operating metrics, and that means they need to be confident about the reliability of your supply chain.
The focus on data and accuracy has fueled the extraordinary growth of Walmart, and their longstanding practices are proving even more valuable as more commerce moves online. Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, Walmart has delivered positive results. That speaks volumes about its ability to quickly adjust to changing consumer demands and habits.
It’s all about making a Walmart relationship productive and profitable.
Becoming a Walmart supplier is challenging. And once you have earned your spot, you want to do everything possible to succeed.
Make sure your production is in place before your products are carried. Invest in software that makes it easy to analyze the performance of your products, and don’t be afraid to offer Walmart data-sourced ideas that could improve it. Have an EDI process that is automated, integrated with your internal system, and designed to meet the Walmart requirements.
It’s not easy to be a successful Walmart supplier. But it can change your brand and your company forever.