For most small businesses, getting products on Walmart shelves is a huge dream. That’s because Walmart (NYSE:WMT) is the world’s largest retailer, attracting more than 140 million American customers every week.
Not surprisingly, getting your products into Walmart is no walk in the park. You need to have a solid strategy to get your products on the Walmart shelves.
How to Get Your Product Sold at Walmart
Ohio-based product development firm, Idea Buyer, recommends the following seven steps to get into Walmart.
1. Patent Your Product
Step 1: if you’re selling a new product, make sure you patent it. That way, you will ensure your innovative product is not copied by anyone.
2. Incorporate Your Company
You will have to provide your company’s taxpayer identification number (TIN) to complete the other steps in the process.
3. Acquire a Barcode Number
You can get your barcode number from GSI US and a D-U-N-S Number from Dun & Bradstreet.
4. Create High-Quality Images of Your Product
You can get a prototype of your product made if you haven’t started manufacturing yet.
5. Write a Sales Sheet
A sales sheet can help you demonstrate why a store like Walmart should accommodate your product.
6. Plan Your Manufacturing
Walmart will require you to explain how you’re going to manufacture enough to fill an order from them. It therefore makes sense to have everything figured out in advance.
7. Submit Your Product for Walmart’s Consideration
The final step is to apply online at Walmart and submit your product for their consideration. If they are interested, they will place a small order so they can test your product in select stores. If liked by customers, you will soon receive bigger orders and start selling across the country.
The following Frequently Asked Questions explain more about how businesses can get started selling on Walmart store shelves.
Do You Have the Right Product for Walmart?
Selling to Walmart stores doesn’t come with an instruction manual. Product suppliers have to fit into what Walmart wants, not the other way around. You’ll find it different from obtaining retail contracts with, say, Home Depot, or other big box retailers. See if you meet these three tests:
- You have the kind of product that Walmart customers buy. If you sell luxury, high-ticket items you’re probably not a good fit. But a modestly priced item that offers good value is suitable.
- Your products stand out. With over 100,000 suppliers, the retail giant likely offers all basic products already. Your offering must be different in some way. Maybe you created unique room furnishings no one’s ever seen before. Perhaps you market a cleaner that gets out stains no other cleaner can.
- Your company has an established brand. Products can outshine the competition by having an established brand and following. Your brand is your differentiation.
These factors improve the odds your products can sell at Walmart.
Do You Fit Walmart’s Vendor Requirements?
Walmart and Sam’s Club suppliers can be of any size, including multi-billion dollar companies and small businesses. The two retail giants also carry merchandise from direct import suppliers. Service and non resale suppliers can also become vendors. Certain types of vendors must meet specific requirements, which are laid out on the website.
In addition, small business owners should take time to honestly assess their business for the following two requirements:
First, have an established customer base. The company doesn’t want a business relying on Walmart for more than 30% of its sales. Suppliers counting on Walmart to make most of their revenue should look elsewhere.
Second, have a track record. Test your product line in local and regional retailers first. Generate sales there. Have a good online presence, with reviews and a social media following.
How Do You Become a Vendor for Walmart?
Walmart has a 3-step process to become a vendor for stores and online sales.
- Registration – You must first register online. Visit the Walmart and Sam’s Club online portal here. Download the detailed Supplier Checklist and follow instructions. You will need to create an online supplier account, providing your company name, address and a contact person.
- Certification – After you receive email confirmation of your registration, your company must be certified. Provide your Federal Taxpayer Identification number, DUNS number, bank information, W9, product information, photos and other details.
- Acceptance – Walmart must accept your company. Review and sign the Walmart / Sam’s Club Supplier Agreement. The company then sends you a supplier number. Be sure you meet the company’s insurance requirements.
Are There Other Ways to Become a Walmart Supplier?
The online application is not the only way to become a Walmart supplier. The online database has intense competition. You will always have to go through the application process to be accepted as a supplier, but you also need to stand out. Here are additional strategies:
- Hire a Pro – Hire a sales rep, also called a manufacturing rep. Sales reps know the lay of the land and have relationships with people at Walmart. Hire one to go in there and pitch your products.
- Go Local – Walk into your local Walmart stores and ask if they carry any local products. It may be easier to get your foot in the door with a local manager to test your products versus attempting nationwide in the first go. If your products do well, it could lead to an opportunity across the United States.
- Go to Open Call – Once a year Walmart holds something called the Walmart open call event — normally held at the company’s headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. It’s designed for small businesses and manufacturers within the United States. The event allows potential suppliers to sit down with buyers and pitch their products. Your business must apply for an invitation to attend.
- Get into the Online Marketplace — Vendors can also sell on Walmart.com’s online marketplace and bypass the company’s physical stores completely. If you are a Shopify ecommerce seller, the Walmart Marketplace – Shopify partnership could be your way in.
- Leverage Diversity – This option might work if your small business is 51% owned by a veteran, disabled person, minority or person identifying as LGBT. Visit Walmart’s supplier inclusion portal for more an the opportunities available as part the company’s diversity supplier program.
What are Common Mistakes?
Before you attempt to get your product in Walmart, it’s important to be ready and capable of meeting the requirements to sell to Walmart. Here are 5 common mistakes a manufacturer should avoid.
Mistake: You lack a pricing strategy that enables you to meet Walmart’s price points. The retail giant requires certain manufacturing quality standards that can cost extra money. The company also asks for a lower-than-usual wholesale price to sell with Walmart and Sam’s Club. And you may need to carry extra inventory to meet replenishment needs. All of this eats into your profit margins and bottom line.
Mistake: You sign a supplier agreement but just can’t meet production demand. Walmart requires quick turnaround times. You need to meet them without sacrificing quality or price. It can be a lot for a small business to handle.
Mistake: You arrive at your meeting with Walmart buyers and haven’t done a lick of research — and it shows in your uninformed questions. Example: you expect to be a drop ship vendor, without realizing the volume requirements. Visit a store to see where your products will be sold. Check out customer patterns and look at how items are displayed. You need to be knowledgeable if you want to get started as a supplier.
Mistake: Your packaging looks like your kids made it. The website for your company looks like it was designed in 2005. Oh, and when Walmart buyers do call, it takes you a good week and a half to respond. These are bad signs. Pay attention to your business image and marketing, and try to see your company in Walmart’s eyes. And practice your presentation!
Mistake: Your product is no different from other suppliers’ goods. Let’s assume you produce a can opener that’s pretty much like every other can opener. You can’t articulate what makes it different. You have no recognizable brand. Getting the interest of distributors for Walmart seems unlikely because they are already sourcing can openers.
Avoid these mistakes if you want your small business to get started as a Walmart supplier. And remember, selling to Walmart can be the ticket to bigger success. But you will be under pressure to meet stringent requirements. Do your homework, have the right expectations, be ready and don’t forget to ask for the purchase order!
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