What Is Walmart Marketplace? Find Out If It’s Right For Your Small Business
Imagine for a minute that your small business had the wide reach, the marketing budget, and the enormous customer base of Walmart. That could be a dream come true — but who has the resources to make that dream a reality?
Actually, if you’ve got a computer and an internet connection, you may be able to harness Walmart’s power and use it to sell your products online. All you have to do is join Walmart Marketplace. Keep reading to discover how to sell on Walmart Marketplace and to learn if joining is the right decision for your small business.
Table of Contents
- What Is Walmart Marketplace? (Video)
- What Is Walmart Marketplace?
- How To Start Selling On Walmart Marketplace
- Your Options For Listing Products On Walmart Marketplace
- Using Walmart Marketplace Shipping Templates
- Walmart Marketplace Fees For Sellers
- Walmart Marketplace Reviews: What Marketplace Sellers Have To Say
- Walmart Marketplace FAQs
- Is Walmart Marketplace Right For Your Small Business?
What Is Walmart Marketplace? (Video)
What Is Walmart Marketplace?
Walmart Marketplace is an online sales platform administered by Walmart. That means you have the products, and Walmart helps you sell them online via a partnership arrangement. Your products will be displayed on Walmart’s online marketplace, available for viewing by Walmart’s 100 million visitors each month, and your product sales will be processed via Walmart’s secure checkout process, while you manage and support the order, including shipping and returns or exchanges.
In other words, Walmart Marketplace gives you the chance to piggyback on Walmart’s reputation and massive online audience to sell your products. If that sounds good, keep reading.
How To Start Selling On Walmart Marketplace
How difficult is it to join Walmart Marketplace as a vendor, and what’s it like to sell there? Before we look at what some real sellers have to say about their experience there, let’s talk about how to sell on Walmart Marketplace. Here’s a rundown of the steps you’ll need to take:
Apply To Join Walmart Marketplace
To protect its business reputation and ensure it’s offering quality products from reputable partners with a commitment to quality and service, Walmart asks interested sellers to provide some basic information about themselves before they can join Walmart Marketplace. You’ll need to visit Walmart’s Request to Sell page to complete the seller application and start the onboarding process. The application process is supposed to take 10-15 minutes, and you’ll need to complete it all in one sitting. Walmart recommends using Google Chrome on a laptop or tablet.
You’ll need to have these things handy:
- US Business Tax ID: A Social Security number isn’t enough for this.
- W9 Or W8 & EIN Verification Letter From The Treasury Department: These documents must verify your US business address or physical place of operations.
- Address Or Place Of Physical Operations
- US Business Address
- Planned Integration Method For Your Product Catalog: You can perform a bulk upload, use an API, or use a third-party solution.
- Categories, Catalog Size, & Related Information: For example, you will need to say how many total SKUs and if your products are new or refurbished.
Complete the application and you may receive an invitation via email that will include next steps and a signup window. You’ll have everything you need to register on Walmart’s Seller Center and integrate your products and processes with Walmart.
Check Your Products
Before you apply to sell, you might want to take a look at what kinds of products are allowed or prohibited on Walmart Marketplace. A wide range of products are included on Marketplace, with a few noteworthy exceptions in addition to the usual exclusions. You’ll find a full list on Walmart’s Seller Help page. Here is a sampling of prohibited products:
- Adult products
- Digital goods
- Drugs, paraphernalia, & medical devices
- Fresh food, infant formula, or non-shelf stable food
- Hazardous, illegal, offensive, or regulated products
- Plastic products, including packaging, that is labeled or marketed as biodegradable, degradable, compostable, decomposable, etc.
- Tobacco & weapons or ammunition
Additional restrictions apply to specific categories, so be sure to check the full list before you start your application.
Consider Your Catalog
Walmart Marketplace doesn’t impose any minimum or maximum number of products, as identified by unique SKUs (stock-keeping units), so you can list as many or as few products as you’d like. You’ll need to set an inventory level for each SKU you add. If you have a limited inventory, you will be able to set a fixed threshold. The items you list on Walmart Marketplace will look just like any other product for sale on Walmart.com, but your company information — such as your shipping and return policies and contact information — will be included on the listing.
Fine-Tune Your Policies
Before you open up your online sales to a wider online market, make sure that key policies are in place — and in line with Walmart’s expectations for its Marketplace partners.
- Shipping: You can choose from among five shipping methods in Walmart’s Seller Center. You can set the shipping price and method, and if you comply with Marketplace’s requirements, you can display Walmart’s TwoDay delivery tag on your listing. You will need to ship Marketplace orders in non-branded packaging, and you can’t include materials from any company other than Walmart, and that includes your own company.
- Returns: You must display your customer service information, including email address, hours of operation, and customer service phone number, on your item listing. Marketplace policy requires a standard 30-day return window, although some items may allow a longer or shorter window. Any returned shipments will go to the address you provide to Walmart.
Your Options For Listing Products On Walmart Marketplace
You’ve done your homework, submitted your seller application, and been approved. What now? When you’re ready to jump into Walmart Marketplace, you have several options for listing your products. You’ll need to choose your method before you start your application process, so take time now to explore your options and choose the one that’s right for your small business.
Option #1: Add Items Through Walmart Seller Center
You can use Walmart Seller Center to add your products to Marketplace in two ways: by finding similar products already listed and using the Match, or by using the Full Item Spec function.
- Setup By Match: This is the quickest way to get your items on Marketplace, but it won’t work for every seller. Walmart recommends using Setup by Match first, and then using Full Item Spec for any products you’re unable to match. From the Walmart Seller Center, download the Setup by Match Spec and then upload the spec by dragging and dropping items into the drop zone. Walmart will process the items and check if they exist already in the Walmart Catalog. Items that match will be automatically set up. If you have products that don’t match, you can use the Full Item Spec method for those.
- Full Item Spec: Download the Full Item Spec 4.0 from Seller Center, then you can add items in bulk using a spreadsheet. Required attributes will be marked, and you should add as many additional attributes as you can, to make it easier for customers to find your items on the Marketplace. Key attributes include product title, description, and key features. These help guide customer searches and also affect how your items will appear in search engine results. If you have products with multiple attributes, such as different colors or sizes, you can set up a variant group. You can also add more information for certain attributes. Some of the most common multi-select attributes are key features, additional images, color, and variant attributes. You can add as many entries as your item requires.
Option #2: Walmart API Integration Method
You can use the Marketplace API to submit, update, and retire items, update prices and manage inventory, and manage your orders. The API is language-neutral, but not all languages are supported by Walmart. If you anticipate needing support, Java is recommended. Start by reading the API documentation. To use the API, you’ll need credentials (a client ID and client secret) that you can generate in the developer portal. Once you have them, you can build and test your code, ensure that it’s well integrated with your own systems, then certify your code and move it into production.
Option #3: Integrate Walmart & Shopify Or Other Third-Party App
If you operate an online store built on the popular Shopify platform, you’ll find it’s relatively easy to add your products to Walmart Marketplace using the Shopify Walmart integration. It’s free to install and use, though you’ll still pay fees to Walmart when you make Marketplace sales. The integration is available on all Shopify plans, with the exception of Shopify Lite. Once you have added Walmart Marketplace as a sales channel, follow these steps to start listing products on Walmart Marketplace:
- Go To Shopify’s All Products Page: That’s where you’ll add your products to the Walmart Marketplace channel. Your items may still say they are “Unavailable on Walmart Marketplace,” but that’s an easy fix. If you filter your products so you’re looking at only those marked with that availability code, you can select the More Action dropdown menu and select Make products available.
2. Select Categories & Subcategories: Navigate to Listings in the Walmart Marketplace heading in Sales Channels. You’ll see your products listed there, but they’ll say Unpublished. Use the dropdown menus by each item to set categories and subcategories, or use the mass editor to do them in a group.
3. Let The Bulk Editor Work For You: Once you’ve entered categories and subcategories, it’s time to use the bulk editor. Your products will appear with all variants, and the bulk editor can validate your listings and notify you of problems. Correct any errors highlighted, then save your work.
If you have already added UPC, GTIN, EAN, or ISBN in Shopify’s barcode field, you can easily import them to Walmart Marketplace by clicking Import Barcodes in the bulk editor. After that, all you have to do is click Save to publish your articles, then wait for your first sale to come through.
Integrating Other Third-Party Solutions
Adding your product catalog to Walmart Marketplace should be fairly simple for most Marketplace providers. However, if your catalog is especially complex, if you’re in a hurry, or if you’d simply rather pay someone to take care of the details for you, you’re in luck. Walmart partners with 42 full-service “solution providers” who would like to give you a bid for handling all the details of your Walmart Marketplace setup, inventory, orders, pricing, and more. You can find a full list of partners on Walmart’s Seller Help page.
You’ll also find lists of specialty partners who can offer assistance in specific areas of Marketplace management, like setup, inventory, orders, and returns/refunds. Other specialty partners can offer assistance in operational areas such as accounting, sales tax calculation and reporting, catalog audits, fulfillment, marketing services, and more. All services are optional and you can fulfill all those functions yourself if you’re interested in doing so.
Using Walmart Marketplace Shipping Templates
Walmart Marketplace has introduced the option of using shipping templates to optimize your shipping settings. These templates replace global shipping settings for Seller Center and API users. With your choice of 15+ customizable templates, you can apply the settings you want to your entire catalog at once or to any number of SKUs. Name the templates you use, add rules, define delivery regions, and set transit times and shipping rates.
Transit time options include the following:
- Walmart’s TwoDay, which includes one- and two-day shipping
- Standard, covering delivery times of three to 5 days
- Value, meaning six or seven-day delivery
- Freight, which can take eight to 10 days
When you use the shipping templates, you’ll gain access to configuration reports that let you track shipping more easily. Configuration reports will let you see where SKUs are assigned, and you can get rid of those old shipping spec sheets you used to use. Access the shipping templates via Seller Center or the Marketplace API.
Walmart Marketplace Fees For Sellers
You won’t have to pay to join Walmart Marketplace as a vendor. But you will pay “referral fees” for each product you sell there. Referral fees are a percentage of the gross proceeds from each sale, and they vary by product category. For that reason, it’s important to pay attention to the categories you place your products into when you list them. Products that are placed incorrectly will be assessed their corrected appropriate fee.
The most common referral fee for products listed on Walmart Marketplace is 15% of the gross sales price. A complete list of referral fees by item category is available on Walmart’s Seller Help page. Here are some notable exceptions:
- Camera & Photo: 8%
- Consumer Electronics: 8%
- Jewelry: 20% on the first $250 and 5% on amounts over $250
- Major Appliances: 8%
- Musical Instruments: 12%
- Personal Computers: 6%
- Video Game Consoles: 8%
- Watches: 15% on the first $1,500 and 3% on amounts over $1,500
One benefit that (surprisingly) isn’t made obvious is the fact that Walmart Marketplace referral fees include credit card processing costs. Think about the amount you pay to the payment processor you use on your eCommerce site. Processing fees in the range of 2.9% plus $0.30 are fairly typical. You won’t encounter those processing fees when you sell on Walmart Marketplace.
What about payments from Walmart Marketplace to you, the seller? Payments for products you’ve sold on the platform, minus referral fees, should be deposited every two weeks into the US bank account you indicate.
Walmart Marketplace Reviews: What Marketplace Sellers Have To Say
eCommerce is a crowded field, and it can take new vendors some time to establish a reputation and build their customer base. Can joining an online marketplace save you some time and bring you closer to eCommerce success faster? Sellers who have joined Walmart Marketplace have had mixed experiences, as you might expect to find on a vast platform that’s open to anyone wanting to join.
Shopify leads the way with its native Walmart Marketplace integration. That integration, however, doesn’t work well for all users. On the Shopify App Store, it garners just 2.6/5 stars, with 72 reviews. Some users say the integration works smoothly and as promised, while others report problems with listings and syncing inventory, for example.
Another option is available for Shopify users — and for BigCommerce vendors, too. A free Walmart integration from CedCommerce that works on both platforms seems to have more users and a higher satisfaction rate of 4.5/5 or better on both platforms, with even users who encountered problems offering high marks for customer support and service.
Walmart Marketplace Pros:
- No Ongoing Fees: You don’t have to pay anything to join Walmart Marketplace. There’s no setup fee, and there’s no monthly or annual subscription. Your only charges will be the referral fees that take a percentage of your gross sales.
- No Limits On Listings: If you have a broad catalog, you can add your entire inventory to Walmart Marketplace. You won’t have to pick and choose, trying to balance the products with the best profit margin against the ones with the greatest appeal.
- Vast Audience: Walmart is one of the most widely known retailers in the US, and its annual sales aren’t too far behind the number one online retailer, Amazon. And, of course, Walmart has more than 100 million unique online visitors each month. When you add items for sale to Walmart Marketplace, your listings look just like Walmart’s own listing, except they include your seller information instead of Walmart’s. The typical Marketplace shopper may not even notice the difference. That gives you instant credibility in addition to access to a vast audience of shoppers.
- Multiple Integrations: While you won’t find easy Walmart Marketplace integrations for every eCommerce platform, you will find some of the big names, like BigCommerce and Shopify. You’ll also find specialty partners that can help you with needs like shipping, inventory management, and more. That includes well-known brands like Deliverr, Ordoro, ShipStation, and TaxJar.
Walmart Marketplace Cons:
- Price Controls: While Walmart Marketplace policies state that vendors can set their own prices on product listings, the fine print states that you can’t set prices differently from your other sites. Moreover, users report that Walmart will unpublish items if your prices are not competitive with what’s available on other sites, including Amazon.
- Strict Policies On Shipping & Returns: You’ll have to conform to Walmart’s policies for shipping, returns, and customer service. Your shipments cannot go out in branded packaging, and you can’t include materials for any company other than Walmart. Marketplace sellers are required to offer a 30-day window for returns, starting seven days after the ship date, and include return labels via FedEx. Buyers can opt to return products in-store as well, at which point you regain possession of the items, with Walmart employees using Returns Shipping Service to return items to you.
- Tricky Integrations: Some vendors have encountered problems listing and syncing inventory, saying that Walmart has strict rules that include attributions you may not be using in your own store. Omit one of them, or enter the wrong information, and your little errors can cause big problems. On the bright side, most users who encounter problems say customer service reps with Walmart and with their eCommerce platforms have been helpful in resolving issues satisfactorily.
Walmart Marketplace FAQs
Is Walmart Marketplace Right For Your Small Business?
As a small business looking for bigger success with online sales, joining an online marketplace sounds tempting. And for most businesses, a marketplace can be a welcome piece of the overall eCommerce strategy.
Your choice of marketplace depends on several business factors as well as your personal preferences. For example, small vendors may gravitate toward a specialty marketplace like Etsy that’s not available to those selling mass-produced items. Bigger sellers may move toward the eCommerce behemoth Amazon, but the ongoing fees and outsized competition there may cut your profit margin and make it a poor choice for smaller vendors.
Walmart Marketplace seems to be a good choice for vendors of all sizes who are looking for a way to piggyback on the success of a large retailer with a huge audience waiting to buy. Although you’ll pay Walmart a percentage of every sale you make on Marketplace, those fees can be offset by the lack of subscription fees required.
Joining Walmart Marketplace is free, so if you’ve been looking for a way to expand your online reach, it’s probably worth giving it a shot. With online sales continuing to rise, this is a good time to test out new marketplaces and look for ways to expand your sales success.
It’s also a good time to review and refine your overall eCommerce plans. It may be time to choose a new online sales platform, update your returns policy, or look for ways to simplify your sales process by adding shipping software. Whether or not you add Walmart Marketplace to your eCommerce plans, keep looking for ways to do what you do online better, more efficiently, and more profitably. Just like in the brick-and-mortar world, that’s the way to keep your eCommerce business thriving.