Let’s address the elephant in the room. Walmart Marketplace isn’t for everyone.
While platforms like Amazon, Etsy and eBay are easy for both novice and experienced companies to get their start, Walmart Marketplace is exceptionally selective.
The basic criteria for being approved includes having previous ecommerce experience, fast shipping and excellent customer service—several things that may seem like easy boxes to check off.
But you can’t jump the gun here. You must be able to prove that you’re trustworthy and a good fit for Walmart. Walmart checks each and every application thoroughly, and won’t hesitate to keep you waiting if anything looks amiss or if you’re missing certain documentation.
So how can you better anticipate what Walmart’s looking for and improve your chances of getting approved to sell on Walmart Marketplace? In this blog, we’ll break down all the major criteria and provide little-known tips and tricks regarding the application process, which we covered in an “Ask Walmart Anything” masterclass featuring representatives directly from Walmart.
The Most Common Reasons for Getting Denied
First and foremost, it’s important to know what causes the most hold-up during the Walmart Marketplace application process.
From the highest level, if one or more required criteria is missing, or Walmart's team is unable to verify your information, you will either be asked to provide the necessary documentation or get rejected.
The most common reasons for getting denied today include:
- Inconsistent tax or business documentation
- Lack of ecommerce experience
- Failure to meet customer service requirements
- Products are at too high of a price point
- The inventory contains prohibited products
- Inability to fulfill orders as quickly as required
Let’s dive into several of these components and what you should actually do to meet Walmart’s requirements.
Tip 1: Have Ecommerce Experience Under Your Belt
Walmart seeks professional, seasoned ecommerce sellers for its marketplace. The more years of experience you have, the better—but Walmart is more concerned with your success over those years. On the application, there is a question that asks how many years of experience you have and on what other platforms you’ve sold on. Amazon and eBay are the most impressive, but a variety of other platforms can do the trick.
Walmart will pull your business's metrics from these other platforms to determine how well your products sold, how satisfied your customers were with their purchases and the level of customer service provided.
If Walmart Marketplace is the first online platform you’re attempting to sell on, hit ‘pause’ on your application. Try your hand at eBay or Amazon first—or at least ensure you’re turning a good, steady volume of sales on your branded site—before you resume. While Walmart doesn't enforce an exact requirement in terms of business size or GMV, we’ve generally noticed that those who do at least $500,000 in annual sales seem to have the greatest amount of success.
As you’re priming the pump by selling on other channels, remember to encourage customers to leave feedback and a seller rating after each purchase. The more authentic reviews you have (hopefully all positive), the quicker you’ll be able to gain Walmart’s trust. The bottom line is that you need to be able to prove that you know your way around ecommerce and can succeed on Walmart Marketplace.
Tip 2: Make Sure Company Documents are Organized
You need much more than a social security number to begin selling on Walmart Marketplace. In fact, your social security number won’t qualify. Rather, you need to be a registered business (specifically in the United States) and be able to provide the below documentation:
- U.S. business tax ID
- Form W-9
- EIN verification letter from the Department of Treasury
- U.S. business address
- U.S. warehouse address
Some of these can be found online, while you may need to contact your state government or accountant for others.
Once you’ve gathered all the docs, you’ll want to carefully review them and verify that the company information is correct. It’s crucial that all of your company's information, like phone number, address and name, is consistent across all forms of documentation. Any discrepancies can lead to a delay in approval or rejection. Consider having your accountant double-check that your documents are correct and compliant with state and federal regulations.
Update (March 19, 2021): Walmart has started to lift restrictions and onboard select Chinese merchants in an effort to open up its marketplace to international sellers. Sellers must still have a U.S. distribution center or partner and the process is still highly regulated, but Walmart will accept W8 ECI and BENE on the application.
Generally speaking, international sellers are not currently eligible to apply to Walmart’s U.S. marketplace. However, an international seller may quality for an exception if they are legally incorporated within the States and have a U.S. business tax ID (EIN), Form W-9, a U.S. fulfillment provider or warehouse and an EIN Verification Letter from the Department of Treasury verifying their U.S. business address or place of physical operations.
Tip 3: Provide Superior Customer Service
Walmart Marketplace seeks sellers who are “excelling in meeting the customer promise," according to Senior Manager of Strategic Partnerships at Walmart Ecommerce Zach Hekker. Walmart Marketplace has stringent customer service policies that all sellers must be able to meet. These include:
- Must have a true business phone number (not a cell or home number)
- Every email must be answered with a human response within 24 hours
- Must have an emergency notification system in place so that your company can respond to the Better Business Bureau or Attorney General within one hour
- Support must be provided in English
- Customer service representatives must be available from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST-PST
- Voicemail must be available when all representatives are assisting other customers
- All voicemails must be returned within 24 hours
Walmart will look at reviews and ratings of your company across other ecommerce platforms to get an idea of the level of customer service you provide. Hekker stated that oftentimes a simple Google search of your business can provide much of this information.
If your company is missing any of these components, make sure to address it before you submit an application. This may involve changing protocols within your customer service department. Make sure your team is up-to-date on any procedural changes and is properly trained to keep up with demands.
Tip 4: Enable Fast, Reliable Fulfillment Services
Walmart prides itself on getting consumers what they need, when they need it.
"We want to make sure we are making [our customers’] lives better,” Hekker explained. “One of our biggest promises is saving people money [and time] so they can live better.”
Hence, the company places a heavy emphasis on fulfillment capabilities when reviewing Walmart Marketplace applications.
Sellers who have their own warehouse and are able to self-fulfill are generally in good shape, provided that they have a warehouse in the United States and the staff to fulfill orders in a timely manner (preferably within two days).
Alternatively, Walmart Marketplace allows you to work with a third-party fulfillment service like Deliverr that is capable of meeting Walmart's fulfillment requirements.
Dropshippers are allowed to sell on Walmart as long as they are able to get products to customers quickly and in unbranded packaging.
It is important to note that sellers are not allowed to fulfill Walmart orders using Amazon FBA’s Multichannel Fulfillment (MCF) service. However, Walmart now offers a fulfillment service of its own, Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), that sellers can apply to use once they’ve been accepted into Walmart Marketplace.
Tip 5: Make Sure Your Products Fit the Walmart Family
Before you apply to Walmart Marketplace, make sure your products fit in with other products that Walmart sells. This (albeit) is a loosely defined criteria, and Walmart still favors unique products that help to diversify its product selection.
For example, Walmart isn't going to be interested in a company selling paper towels because they already have plenty of vendors to choose from. Likewise, Walmart won’t be interested in a company specializing in luxury goods at a significantly higher price point than the average Walmart product.
Carefully review the products you are wanting to sell on Walmart Marketplace. Make sure that you can offer them at affordable, competitive prices for everyone and it fits Walmart’s business model.
Tip 6: Check that Your Prices Fit the Model
Walmart is known for having some of the lowest, if not the lowest, prices.
The price of your products must follow suit. You do not necessarily have to sell your product for the cheapest, but you should be very close. Walmart will search for listings related to your products on other sites. If it’s found that you or another seller is offering your products at a noticeably lower price elsewhere (including the price of shipping), your application may get rejected.
Of course, you should keep your profit margins in mind as well. If you can't sell at the lowest price, try to make up for it by offering another benefit. For instance, try to ship and deliver your product faster than your lower-cost competitor. Time is worth something, especially to Walmart consumers.
Tip 7: Pay Attention to Your Product Integration Strategy
Upon getting accepted to sell on Walmart Marketplace, you are expected to integrate your catalog and begin selling in a timely fashion. With this in mind, Walmart Marketplace will want to know what your integration strategy is as early as during the application process.
Therefore, you’ll want to organize your inventory against Walmart's categories, know how many products will be in each category and how you plan to upload your products to Walmart's platform before you submit your application.
If you’re working with one of Walmart’s official integration partners like Zentail, you’re in luck. Your platform should automatically provide the connection between your catalog and Walmart, simplifying the entire process. Zentail’s SMART Types technology will additionally categorize your products for you and format your product data according to Walmart Marketplace’s unique requirement. On your application, just make sure to specify that you’ll be integrating via a solution provider.
P.S. Zentail can help to expedite the entire application process. If you’re a Zentail customer, you can apply using a special application that gets dropped into a preferred queue and will be reviewed as quickly as 48 hours.
In Summary, Preparation is Key
Walmart has built its reputation on excellent customer service and affordable (yet, still safe and high-quality) products. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Walmart Marketplace thoroughly vets their sellers before allowing them to sell on their third-party platform.
Sending in a haphazard application will most certainly end in a denial. You’ll therefore want to take the time to double check your application and go through the steps above to ensure that you meet all of Walmart Marketplace's requirements.