Walmart doesn’t set a lot of hard-and-fast rules for its suppliers. More than anything, it wants to see that suppliers have the resources and expertise to follow through on its promises.
But that doesn’t mean the company is without expectations. Walmart uses a number of policies and criteria to govern the buyer-supplier relationship, and to evaluate a supplier’s success and value as a business partner. When you work with Walmart, you’re asked to meet high standards for performance and consistency. If you can’t rise to those expectations, your relationship with the World’s Largest Retailer may be in jeopardy.
Furthermore, Walmart is pretty clear about certain requirements suppliers need to meet if they want to build a lasting relationship with the company. Although none of these requirements are black-and-white rules, suppliers are smart to treat them as such, and to implement their own strategy and policies to make sure they’re fulfilling these requirements at all times.
Here are three such requirements you need to consider for your Walmart retail strategy.
1. You need the manufacturing and production infrastructure to adequately supply Walmart with product.
To put it simply, some upstart CPG brands don’t have the production capacity to keep up with Walmart demand. Maybe you’ll get there eventually. But until you can reliably fulfill orders and keep up with supply, you can’t expect to maintain a business relationship with Walmart.
When you take your first look at launching into Walmart, you’ll need to set certain expectations in terms of production. On a practical level, you need the raw materials in place to keep up with manufacturing at the pace you’re promising Walmart, otherwise there’s no point in even trying to do business with the company. If you can’t meet production expectations, you’ll all but certainly fail, and you could burn some valuable bridges in the process.
You also need to have contingency plans in place. If resources run scarce or production becomes strained, how can you divert other resources to support selling to Walmart?
Walmart wants to be your top retail priority. They don’t want to be your company’s sole source of sales, but they do want an assurance that if you hit production trouble, you can divert inventory away from other retailers and prioritize Walmart.
2. Make sure your operations technology can integrate with Walmart’s existing technology.
Walmart doesn’t care what software and solutions you use for taking orders, managing shipping, and handling other aspects of operations. When you’re selling through Walmart, you need to adopt its preferred technologies.
For example, Walmart uses electronic data interchange to facilitate ordering from suppliers. This means your business needs to be set up to receive orders using EDI. Other technologies, 1WorldSync and item creation software, need to be able to integrate cleanly with Walmart’s operations solutions. If you can’t get this technology in place, you can’t count on Walmart as a retail partner.
3. Provide appropriate Walmart.com item content to improve item visibility.
Walmart knows the value of having an online store that features comprehensive information about its inventory. This includes products that are only sold in stores: Even if your products aren’t available online, you still need to provide enough information to produce a full item listing on Walmart.com.
This content should include high-resolution images of your product, as well as optimized product descriptions and other content to showcase your product, in addition to the full range of options for purchasing those items.
To sell your products through Walmart, you’ll need to implement the basic software and services that buyers will expect from any CPG brand. Suppliers have to check some of the basic boxes when ensuring integration of software, as well as production and manufacturing volumes that can support a Walmart relationship.
But don’t fool yourself into thinking that these basic requirements are all that’s needed to gain a foothold at Walmart. Shelf space at the World’s Largest Retailer is highly coveted real estate, and there will always be competing brands that are desperate to take your spot. These basic requirements only scratch the surface of what it takes to build a long-lasting relationship with Walmart Inc.