The first step to being a WALMART vender is to go online at WALMART Stores and submit detailed financial info about your company. You can also call corporate headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas.. 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) Identification number (s) meet applicable liability and workers compensation insurance requirements, pass quality assurance testing, and meet Labeling and Packaging requirements. If you survive that round, you might just find yourself in that big ole parking lot filled with rental cars from fellow venders… your competition. Don’t worry, there will be many scared faces to match yours.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
BEFORE you submit that questionnaire remember you usually have ONE chance to sell to these buyers “They don’t have time to BS”. The buyers at WALMART have become even more demanding. In fact, these days, venders have to prove they have what it takes to handle Walmart’s massive production and Walmart size returns long before negotiations begin. You can’t even get pass the front door without showing proof that you have adequate financing.
Step one for potential venders is to go to a Walmart Super Center and figure out where your product should be placed. If you find a spot you think you should overtake then you better be ready to say “Why your product is better” and can be sold cheaper. Get to know your competitors and who they are.
Bentonville is a really long way from anywhere. Here in the south, business is still done the good- ole- boy country way. Most buyers are male. They pretty much fall into three categories, with the most experienced likely to be in their early 40’s making $75,000 or more a year. Even a beginning buyer, at age 27 making as little as $30,000 a year, has power…lot’s of power! The typical buyer is a “Child of the Ozarks” meaning “a local boy” but they also very smart and tough. These kids control millions and millions of dollars in purchasing power. Pitch rooms in which these buyers have you in operate usually reserved for no more than 45 minutes to an hour, vendors presentations better be short and sweet. If you don’t get to the point quickly, then your done. They say, ‘Don’t like, move on. Don’t like it move on’. So be very prepared when you go.
Why should they be expected to replace an established product having a proven track record for “zillions” of order cycles with a new product that has not been heard of before? In essence, what you are asking the buyer is to dilute that share of a proven and known value with an unproven and unknown value. New product failures are not how buyers keep their jobs.
Another consideration is the amount of open-to-buy the buyer has for his department. In other words, how many dollars does he have left in his budget to spend on product, whether new or old? Seasonal returns, advertising and sales promotions, departmental landed gross, interest on inventory purchased, and markdowns both current and year-to-date all play a factor in determining the amount of available open-to-buy the buyer has to spend.
Seasonal buying for an event during the forthcoming year begins during the same event in the current year, and perhaps as much as 40% of the buyer’s annual budget is spent during the months following that season as it leads to the next. Juggling those dollars is a very complicated and formulated process!
Figure in the average turns per year, gross markup at retail versus landed gross, net profit budgeted versus actual profit due to markdowns, and a virtual plethora of other factors complicate the matter. Then figure how may square feet and the dollars per square feet (sometimes even dollars per square inch!) each known product will bring in to conform to a certain shelf profile or gondola modular layout that will maximize and enhance his department’s sales in order to come in at or over budget in all of the above except inventory, and one can begin to readily see why a buyer may not really be interested in new products.
So again, your presentation and salesmanship better be good. If not hire someone!
WALMART’S LITTLE SECRET
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 locally referenced 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.
DON’T FORGET YOUR EDI
You must have an EDI to do business with Walmart. Click this link to go to the EDI site.
Covalentwork’s web-based EDI solution providers everything a supplier needs to easily exchange EDI transactions with any of the major retailers. No software is required. EDI VAN service, training and support are all included at no extra charge.