The Essential Guide to Selling on Walmart
If you're selling products on Walmart, you’ve probably read page after page of the same basic information--information you could've found on the Walmart's website for vendors. We know gathering bits of information over multiple websites can be frustrating, so we’ve pulled together this essential guide for how to sell on Walmart to usher you through every step of the process.
This guide is packed with all of the essentials from registration and approvals to advanced topics like "How to Optimize Your Listings," "Winning the Buy Box" and "Dealing with Negative Feedback." After reading this guide, you'll be prepared to go into the marketplace and start the process.
Section 1: Registration and Sign-Up
Before you can sell on Walmart, you need to sign up for a free seller account. The first section of the application asks for basic contact information. This includes a bit about your business. Next, you’ll enter more detailed information about your business. The process is fairly straightforward and should only take 10 to 15 minutes.
When entering your business details, type them exactly as they read on your business license and registration. This distinguishes you from other sellers with similar business names. You also don’t want your business confused with another of a similar name on Google. Therefore, it’s important to add the appropriate suffix after your business name. If you’re incorporated, add "Inc." If you’re a limited liability company, add "LLC."
Here’s a quick summary of the sign-up directions:
- Navigate to the Marketplace page at http://marketplace.walmart.com/apply.
- From the three tabs above the application, select "Primary Contact."
- Fill in all the requested information. If you skip any boxes, you’ll return to the same screen until they’re filled in.
- When entering your Legal Company Name, include "Inc." if incorporated, or the appropriate suffix (i.e., LLC, Co., LTD, DBA, etc.). The information should match any registration certificates you have for your company.
- Double-check the accuracy of your website and any phone numbers listed in the application before proceeding to the next page.
Improving Your Approval Odds
Businesses chosen to sell on Walmart are generally those with a good track record. Good candidates are well-established and provide fast shipping options. Shipping options are important because customers are more likely to buy from sellers who offer express shipping over those who offer longer shipping times. Walmart also favors businesses with quality products at affordable prices. Remember, Walmart offers products that the average person uses every day. The more likely a person is to use your product(s); the more likely Walmart is to approve your application.
Other things you can do to improve your approval odds are:
- Have a good online presence.
- Have good customer service.
- Quick distribution.
- Offer competitive prices.
- List a UPC, EAN or equivalent codes for your products. (You can’t list your items without at least one of theses.)
- Don’t list restricted products or brands.
- Examples of these are alcohol, artifacts, currency, and drugs.
Keep in mind that it will take a few weeks for application approval. Once approved, you sign and return the Retailer Agreement. Next comes your onboarding process, which also takes a few weeks.
To receive payments, enter your bank account details. This should be the bank account associated with your business, although it is permissible to use your personal account. Walmart must verify the validity of your account, so they’ll deposit one penny. It shouldn’t take any longer than one business day to see this amount in your bank. If you don’t see it, contact your bank, then Walmart Marketplace Customer Service to re-verify the payment. Once you verify the amount, set up your taxes in your Partner Profile.
The partner profile is your company’s digital "face" on Walmart. Customers read this section to get to know more about your company. Focus on good content here, as it could persuade a customer to buy from your company over others that sell on Walmart.
The partner profile contains:
- About Us
- Return Policy
- Shipping Options
- Customer Service Contact Info
The Partner Profile also provides a place to enter your sales tax information as required by your state.
Section 2: Item Setup
To get started, you'll first upload your items. Walmart’s marketplace offers three methods for item upload: bulk, API Integration and Integration Partner.
- Bulk Upload - This option is best if you’re uploading a small batch of evergreen items. After entering your product data in an Excel spreadsheet (or Google Docs Spreadsheet), upload it to Walmart’s Bulk uploader. This is not a suitable option for products that are likely to change.
- API Integration Method - Although a bit technical, this is the best option for uploading large batches of items. You’ll need a Consumer ID to use this option. This ID is in General Settings. Once you’re here, enter your credentials. This is only required one time.
- Integration Partner - This option allows third-party uploads from integrated partners. If you’re selling from another site or even your own, using this option could save a lot of time. Some integrated partners do all the technical work, allowing you to spend more time on your own site.
No matter what method you choose for upload, there are key bits of information required for your products. Aside from price and description, you’ll also need the UPC and SKU numbers, brand name and manufacturer's model or part number.
Setting Up Images (and requirements)
When setting up images, upload the highest quality image and one that really showcases your product. A best practice is to upload many images showing your product from every angle with a blank white background. The image should be responsive. This way a potential customer has the option of expanded the page or zooming in on the image without distortion.
To sell on Walmart, every product you upload must accompany a main image. If you’re not sure which image should be the main image, choose the one that gives the most detail about your product -- one that entices the customer to buy the product even before reading a description of it.
Walmart recommends uploading images that are free from watermarks, logos and text. Look through high-rated sellers on Walmart Marketplace for a good idea of what’s acceptable.
Walmart allows you to list up to four images in total. These images should display every side of the item listed. Each image should have a URL and Alt Text for search and SEO. When someone types in the name of your product in a search engine, the Alt Text points the search engine to your image.
According to Listing Mirror, Walmart has recently updated its image requirements to include Portrait Mode. All images must comply with the 3:4 aspect ratio. If your images don’t comply, you’ll have to replace them with ones that do.
Now it’s make-or-break time for your product. The listing content gives the customer everything they need to know about how to use and select your product. It also offers a clear description of what it is and what it does. High-rated sellers on Walmart also include "how to" information in this section. This helps the reader envision how to use your products.
Avoid copy and paste jobs. Don’t copy and paste information from your competitors’ listings. Be a little creative and unique when writing your Long, Short and Shelf descriptions.
- Long Descriptions are up to 4,000 characters and contain the most important information about your product. This includes descriptions and features. Avoid salesy speech in this section.
- The Short Description includes a 1,000-character sell. This is where you list all your key selling points. Remember to make it sound natural and not overly salesy. Keep in mind the kind of customer purchasing your product and what they would need to know to buy it from you. Does it come with a warranty? Will it fulfill a desire the reader has? If so, list these facts in the Short Description section.
- The Shelf Description includes a bulleted list of key features for each of your products. Best practices here is to list similar key features to your competitors -- especially high-rated ones. When the customer searches for your item, these key features display along with the image.
Spell-check everything before uploading and check for proper grammar. Google lists many of the items you sell on Walmart. They put high emphasis on grammar and spelling for more SEO juice. Avoid passive voice and empty filler words to describe your products. You have seconds to persuade your customers to buy a product from you. Use this space wisely. Think of it as prime real estate and every word you type is adding more value.
Section 3: Competitive Pricing
List all prices in your required currency and double-check for decimal errors. The last thing you want is to list a $100.00 item for $1,000.00 or a $5.00 item for $50.00.
When creating a price for your product, keep in mind the referral fee you owe each time you sell on Walmart. Depending on the item, the Walmart referral fee ranges between 6% and 20%. Jewelry has the highest referral fee of any product sold in the Walmart Marketplace and personal computers have the lowest.
When you sell on Walmart, price strategically. View listings of similar and identical items and price yours competitively. That also includes Walmart’s listing. Some sellers are afraid that underpricing Walmart’s listing will get theirs removed -- but this is not based in fact. Walmart makes a fee from all sales, so they encourage sellers to price competitively. This increases the odds of your products gaining traction on the site.
Section 4: Standing Out from the Competition
One way to stay above your competitors in Walmart’s search, as well as major search engines, is to optimize your listings. Here are some optimizing best practices for greater Walmart SEO:
- Product Name - Keep your product name to a cap of 75 characters and a minimum of 50. Include brand, size, group, quality, item name, style and pack count.
- Attributes - On the left of your product is a category menu that lists all your product's attributes. Select the ones that match your products since customers use these to filter the results.
- Long Description - Use keywords that relate to your products in your product description. This includes what customers type in Google to find products like yours. If you’re selling a red Levis dress, use the key phrase "small red Levis dress." Use tools like Screaming Frog and Google Trends to find search phrases related to your product.
The Buy Box
The Buy Box is prime real estate for merchants who sell on Walmart. It’s a small box that highlights the best of the best in each category. You can’t apply to be in the box -- you must win your place. To increase your chances of winning, price your products strategically and offer low shipping (free is even better). This box appears at the top of a results page displaying similar items.
Section 5: Packaging and shipping best practices
Walmart does not allow sellers to use branded boxes; they prefer plain. This means no FBA fulfillment at all! If you are a first-party seller, simply ship your item to Walmart and they’ll package it in their branded boxes and ship it to the customer directly.
Whether you’re shipping to Walmart or the customer, handle your packaging with care. Wrap all fragile items in bubble wrap and line your boxes with styrofoam or packing peanuts (whichever is appropriate). If you’re shipping directly to the customer, include a discount card or company card in the box. Added extras like branded tissue, freebies and coupons are among customer favorites.
The key to your customer’s heart is fast shipping -- it’s also a sure shot way to become one of Walmart’s favorite sellers. Enter your shipping costs in the product listing section. If you have a Free Shipping option, list this one in plain sight. If you choose to skip tiered pricing altogether, you can use the weight option. For this, you’ll need the exact weight of your item since weight determines the cost. No matter which method you choose, list the transit times.
Section 6: Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Customer relationship management is a fancy term for how you interact with customers and the efficiency of your interaction. Websites that offer products often contain ratings. Walmart is no exception to this rule. Many customers scroll down to this section before even reading the product description.
Potential customers obtain accurate real-world opinions on your products from customers who are using them. This includes real images of your product, opinions on packaging, and information about product usefulness. (This is why it’s so important to list all aspects of your product honestly.)
If you have anything less than a five-star rating, customers want to know why. They look for the negative reviews and base much of their purchasing decision on them. If they don’t see any interaction between you and the customer (even if you’ve emailed the customer), they can easily assume that you don’t interact with your customers and that this negative experience could happen to them, too. According to Inc., it takes approximately 40 good reviews to undo one negative review.
Improve your purchases by interacting with negative commenters and a few positive ones as well. Offer more than just a simple thanks or I’m sorry. Include some of the details they’ve listed as well as their name in the reply.
Customer Alissa: I received a broken mirror this morning and I’m not too happy about it. I was going to give it as a wedding present and now I’m forced to purchase another once since I don’t have time to return this. Ugh. Waste of money. DON’T BUY FROM THIS SELLER!
Your Company: Hello Alissa! We’re terribly sorry about the experience you’ve had. Please contact our customer service department to find out ways we can help you. (She’s clearly stated that she can’t be helped and this generic answer is likely to make her even more upset.)
Your Company: Hi Alissa! I’m so sorry that you received the mirror broken! We assure you that this isn’t a common occurrence and we want to make it right. As a small token, we’d like to offer you a replacement at no cost to you and a discount on your next order. If you don’t mind emailing us your order number at email@example.com we’ll be more than happy to express ship another. If that isn’t workable, please let us know how we can help.
You don’t have to offer the same option. However, listing an option in the reply is enough to show the reader that you do care about your customer’s happiness -- even if the disgruntled customer never replies.
Walmart favors sellers who have excellent customer service. To sell on Walmart you must have a customer service method of communication. This could be a phone number or an email, although more customers prefer phone contact. Your customer service team should be available during normal business hours. If using email as a customer service tool, set an auto-reply to make the customer aware that you’ve received their query. Be sure to list a time frame of when you plan to contact the customer back. A typical auto-responder lists an exact time frame like 24 to 48 hours rather than “as soon as possible.” Be ready to offer the customer more than a refund. If the customer isn’t happy with your product and you want to keep as many customers as possible, offer a discount on a future purchase. This may entice them to purchase from you again.
Selling on Walmart is a rewarding experience. As long as you’re customer-centric, offer competitive pricing and honest products, you’ll find your way to the top of Walmart’s best sellers list. Remember, the Buy Box is where you want to be. Follow all the above instructions to the letter and you’ll be there in no time. Don’t be afraid to rub shoulders with Walmart. If you underprice them it’s fine, so long as your products are still of good quality. Communicate with your customers good or bad and reward repeat shoppers with discounts. These are surefire ways to sell on Walmart for a very long time.