Have you ever shopped at Walmart and thought… I need to get my products on those shelves. Did you spot the perfect place for your new product and think, Bingo, that’s where my product will go. I think I’ll give them a call.
The truth is, Walmart receives hundreds of calls each day, asking the same question, “How do I become a vendor?” For many people getting your products on the shelves of Walmart is the pot at the end of the rainbow. Thoughts of millions of dollars race through their heads. For some, Walmart is the pot of gold they searched for. For others it will be another day in bankruptcy court.
The road to the corporate Walmart headquarters can be a long one, it can also be the best road ever traveled. Before even approaching such a large retailer, you must do your homework. The first step to being a Walmart vendor is to go online at http://www.walmartstores.com and submit detailed financial info about your company. You can also call corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas at (501) 273-4000. Operators will refer you to the appropriate department for the information you need. You also must be listed with and order and pay for two Dun & Bradstreet reports. Walmart wants to know you can handle your biz.
In addition to following these steps, you must apply for Universal Product Code (UPC), meet applicable liability and workers compensation insurance requirements, pass quality assurance testing, and meet Labeling and Packaging requirements. If you survive this round, you might just find yourself in the big ole parking lot filled with rental cars from fellow vendors… your competition. Don’t worry, there will be many scared faces to match yours.
Before you submit that questionaire remember you usually have ONE chance to sell those buyers. The buyers at Walmart have become even more demanding. In fact, these days, vendors have to prove they have what it takes to handle Walmart size returns long before negotiations begin. You can’t even get past the front door without showing proof that you have adequate financing.
Step two for potential vendors is to go to a Walmart Super Center and figure out where your product should be placed. If you find a spot you think should overtake then you best be ready to say, “Why your product is better and can be sold cheaper.” Get to know your competitors and who they are.
One of best kept secrets to Walmart is their LOCAL VENDOR PROGRAM. This program is one of the easiest ways to become a vendor. Your products usually need to be unique and have a local reference in some way. This program is the best way for small local business to set up shop with Walmart which allows smaller orders to be distributed in your local area. Starting at a slow pace can let you get a feel of how Walmart operates. What I did was call my local Walmart store and ask to speak with the general manager. We then set up a time for him to look over my product. After this meeting he gave me a local vendor application. I filled out the application and brought it back to him to send in with his referral. Store managers have the power to refer any new product they think would be good for their store. This usually pushes things along along easier and faster than going to headquarters.
Walmart information contributed by Cindy Jones.