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Walmart Takes on Amazon With New Marketplace Perks

Walmart rolled out new incentives to attract more third-party brands to its online sales channels with the promise of a cheaper barrier to entry. Sellers who join Walmart Marketplace by May 31 or start selling on by June 30 will receive a 50 percent discount on commission rates for their first 90 days.

Walmart has also extended its Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS) introductory offer for new sellers that also want to take advantage of the mass merchant’s low-cost fulfillment option. Approved sellers that enroll in WFS, complete the setup process and inbound one item to a Walmart fulfillment center by June 30 will get 90 days of free storage and a 10 percent discount on fulfillment fees. The 90-day discount period starts when a Walmart fulfillment center receives a seller’s first item.

The storage fee discount is applicable to the first 10,000 units only. Walmart said it has the right to change, cancel or terminate the offer at any time without notice.

Walmart originally launched WFS in February 2020, with the low-cost fulfillment solution seeing 500 percent growth of U.S.-based gross merchandise value (GMV) in 2021. As part of the program, new Walmart Marketplace sellers can set up the products they want to fulfill with WFS before shipping them out to a WFS facility. During non-peak season, items are usually stocked within two days after arriving at the warehouses. From there, Walmart employees store, pick, pack and ship orders, and handle customer care and returns.

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Users of the fulfillment service also can view real-time data on their sales performance, and can manage their inventory, shipment and order tracking in three ways: through the online Seller Center, direct APIs or integrations with solution providers like ChannelAdvisor and Sellercloud.

Walmart claims that sellers who use WFS to fulfill their items are averaging 50 percent GMV growth for those items. Additionally, the company said it retains 90 percent of it sellers. Walmart attributes some of the growth to its Preferred Carrier Program, which resulted in savings on inbound transportation costs for participating sellers.

Items sold through WFS arrive in a Walmart box and are categorized as “fulfilled by Walmart,” which the retailer says builds credibility with customers and can encourage repeat purchases. Customers who have a problem with a WFS-fulfilled item can access Walmart Customer Care or return the product at their local Walmart store.

The drive comes as Walmart angles to expand the marketplace’s global reach. The retail giant first opened its marketplace to 1,200 U.S. Shopify sellers in June 2020 but has since expanded the program to any Shopify seller. And last year, Walmart began allowing eligible retailers on the BigCommerce platform to sell products directly on Walmart Marketplace. By activating the Walmart Marketplace channel, sellers coming from either e-commerce platform partner can track products, orders, inventory and fulfillment from one central location; and gain access to Walmart’s curated network of complementary partners.

The U.S.’s largest retailer has taken more steps to share the wealth in recent years as it builds out its technology and seeks out new revenue-driving opportunities. In a way, Walmart is looking to take on the new “service provider” role for retailers, similar to how Amazon has used its clout to team up with smaller sellers to offer fulfillment services via FBA or cloud services via AWS.

For one, Walmart’s Adobe partnership integrated the tech giant into the mass merchant’s marketplace, online and in-store fulfillment technologies.

This year, Adobe’s U.S. retail customers will be able to integrate Walmart’s technologies in their own storefronts.

Walmart also is investing in delivery services via its GoLocal platform. As part of the service, Walmart will dispatch contract workers from its Spark delivery network to merchants’ stores to pick up items and then bring them to shoppers.

Participating sellers can use the service for scheduled and unscheduled deliveries, including same-day delivery, and can expand their delivery capacity and coverage as their own customer demand requires.

Chico’s FAS and The Home Depot were among the first pilot partners of the API-driven Walmart GoLocal service. Walmart has also recently partnered with last-mile delivery software provider Delivery Solutions to give its retailers access to express, same-day and next-day delivery.

Additionally, Walmart is looking to further leverage partnerships in media and advertising with the launch of Walmart Connect. Formerly known as Walmart Media Group, the division offer sellers a way to highlight their brand in front of millions of Walmart customers through ad formats like self-checkout screens, digital signage, in-store events and sampling.