For the first time, Walmart will hold its annual Open Call for U.S.-manufactured products in a completely virtual format due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and one-on-one meeting opportunities with company merchants are still available.
To date, more than 3,000 businesses from 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have applied for the opportunity to pitch their Made in USA products, and more than 10,000 merchant meetings have been requested, Walmart said Friday. The virtual one-on-one meeting opportunities include all categories, including general merchandise, food and consumables.
The nation’s largest employer said it is especially interested in receiving more general merchandise products across the home and sporting goods, toys, stationery, apparel, hardware, automotive and seasonal categories.
“Offering Open Call in a completely virtual format gives us an unprecedented opportunity to reach and meet with more businesses that are manufacturing quality products our customers are interested in,” Laura Phillips, Walmart senior vice president for global sourcing and U.S. manufacturing, said.
“This year’s Open Call is shaping up to be a great event for businesses of all kinds,” she added. “By eliminating physical meeting spaces, we’re able to increase the number of business breakout sessions as part of the event program and give more businesses the opportunity to participate, regardless of location. Additionally, we are able to schedule even more virtual one-on-one meetings with Walmart merchants.”
As in previous years, Open Call participants could secure deals to reach customers through Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and Walmart.com. A major difference this year is the addition of Walmart Marketplace in a bigger and better way, the company noted. As more customers choose to shop online, Walmart has strengthened its position through Walmart.com and Marketplace, which is outpacing the company’s overall U.S. e-commerce business.
Growing Marketplace is a strategic priority, Walmart said, and another reason why this year’s Open Call presents a powerful opportunity for entrepreneurs and small businesses.
The event, scheduled for Oct. 1, kicks off Walmart’s celebration of U.S. Manufacturing Month and will include similar programming to previous years. In addition to one-on-one pitch meetings with company buyers, participants will have an opportunity to hear directly from Walmart executives and learn from them during smaller breakout sessions designed to inform, empower and encourage supplier-hopefuls.
This year, breakout sessions will include a range of relevant topics, from accessing financial capital to creating great online product content and managing risk.
In January 2013, Walmart announced its commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023. Walmart’s Open Call is one way the company continues to invest in this commitment.
The application and additional event information are available via Walmart-jump.com. The deadline to apply is Monday, Aug. 10.
The biggest of the big mass merchants are looking to broaden their supplier base with new products and perspectives. Dollar General recently announced a 2020 Supplier and Diversity Innovation Summit set to take place on Sept. 16 and source new vendors that haven’t sold to the company in the past year and a half.
“Respecting the dignity and differences of others is a core value and cultural cornerstone of Dollar General, and this year’s Supplier and Diversity Innovation Summit reflects our ongoing efforts to offer the right products for each unique customer and community we serve,” said Johné Battle, vice president of diversity and inclusion for Dollar General, which is looking for pitches from ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQIA+ individuals, veterans, and those with disabilities, as well as small businesses owned by economically and socially disadvantaged individuals.
“We are proud to serve a diverse consumer base throughout the communities we call home,” Battle added, “and look forward to the opportunity to find more relevant products to meet their needs.”