What you need to know before delivering to a Walmart distribution center
Table of contents:
- Walmart warehouses: fast facts
- Delivering to a Walmart warehouse? Here are the need-to-knows
Whether you’re a large- or medium-size shipper in logistics, one of the best things you can do to grow your business is to partner with a large e-commerce retailer like Walmart.
Once you’ve done the heavy lifting of getting your product into Walmart’s supply chain, you’re going to have to deliver to a Walmart warehouse. Walmart warehouses (also known as Walmart Distribution Centers) are located all across the country. From the distribution centers, goods of all types — general merchandise, dry groceries, perishable groceries, along with other specialty categories — are delivered to Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs within a 150-mile radius of each distribution center.
When it comes to having a profitable relationship with Walmart, knowledge is power. As a shipper, to find success with the retail giant, you need to know what — and who — you’re working with. Below you’ll find all the information you need to deliver successfully at Walmart fulfillment centers.
Walmart warehouses: fast facts
These facts come straight from the Walmart website:
- Walmart’s distribution network began in a rented garage in the 1960s.
- There are more than 150 Walmart Warehouses across the country, ranging from Hermiston, Oregon to Hope Mills, North Carolina, and Fort Worth, Texas … and everywhere in between.
- The Walmart warehouse operation is one of the largest in the world.
- The operation services stores, clubs, and direct delivery to customers.
- Walmart transportation has a fleet of 6,100 tractors, 61,000 trailers, and more than 7,800 drivers.
- Each Walmart warehouse measures more than 1 million square feet in size and employs 600+ Walmart warehouse workers.
- A regional distribution center can have up to 12 miles of conveyor belts capable of moving hundreds of thousands of cases through the center each day.
Fun fact: each Walmart grocery distribution center is equipped to house up to 4 million bananas at one time.
Delivering to a Walmart warehouse? Here are the need-to-knows
Walmart distribution centers are known for being some of the most efficient delivery destinations in the country. Highly automated and operating 24 hours per day, these warehouses see hundreds of trucks per hour. And because of the massive inbound volume of products, Walmart’s compliance rules are some of the strictest of any retailer.
In 2020, Walmart warehouses tightened their already-stringent requirements. These requirements are part of the OTIF (On-time, in-full) initiative for Walmart. When it comes to the unloading process, Walmart doesn’t budge on its compliance rules.
According to FreightWaves, “Suppliers must fulfill orders exactly as Walmart wants, hit the company’s “must arrive by” date at the designated warehouse, and accomplish both at least 98% of the time or face a fine equal to 3% of the cost of goods sold. The directive applies to purchase orders supporting brick-and-mortar and e-commerce transactions.”
[Learn more about Walmart’s recent requirement change here.]
To avoid large fees or a forced exit from Walmart’s shelves, you must be within the compliance rules as often as possible. Choose your carriers, appointment times, and unloading strategy carefully. Below are some tactical tips to maintain a strong relationship with Walmart — specifically when delivering to their warehouses.
Be on time
The importance of being on time goes without saying in logistics, but for Walmart warehouses, being on time for your delivery appointment is an absolute requirement.
If a carrier of Walmart products is late to an appointment, the driver will wait — without exception — until the next available delivery appointment. This means your carrier could have a product waiting on a truck at the Walmart warehouse for several days or weeks. In addition, if you miss the allotted appointment window (usually 1-5 days), you will pay up to several thousand dollars in fines to Walmart.
On the flip side, if you are on time, Walmart warehouses are easy to work with and efficient, and will get you in and out within an hour. Showing up at the Walmart warehouse early or on time will ensure a long-term profitable relationship with Walmart.
Learn the Walmart warehouse technology
Walmart wants its suppliers to be successful. If Walmart has shippers it can count on, Walmart customers are happy. Walmart is also competing with Amazon, so it’s essential to maintain innovative and shipper-first practices to keep suppliers around.
One of the ways Walmart Inc. empowers shipping partners is by providing access to RetailLink, a central technology hub that manages the relationship with Walmart. RetailLink is an internet-based tool created by Wal-Mart, which allows suppliers to access point-of-sale data and other important information.
- Walmart’s proprietary technology, RetailLink, handles all scheduling for drop-off appointments at a Walmart warehouse.
- As a supplier, once you are approved to work with Walmart, you will be given a RetailLink account and login information.
- Each employee within your organization must have a unique RetailLink username and password.
- In RetailLink, Walmart provides easy-to-access data that can help you and your business. You can build custom report queries to understand trends, find FAQs, and build dashboards to easily understand the data of your drop-offs.
Adapt to — and appreciate — the benefits of the Walmart way
There are several pros of maintaining a great relationship with Walmart; aside from the obvious reasons like getting your product in front of millions of potential buyers both on Walmart.com and in person at Walmart stores, Walmart is one of the most efficient drop-off locations in the country.
Here are other pros of working with Walmart:
- Walmart warehouses, unlike other drop-off points in logistics, do not charge lumper fees to unload your product — as long as you are on time.
- Walmart warehouse associates, loaders, unloaders, and package handlers are trained to be fast and efficient when unloading.
- Walmart is always innovating to enhance its supply chain. Walmart claims that augmented reality, virtual reality, micro-warehouses, hyperlocal distribution centers, and drones are all part of the plan to keep up with industry changes.
- Each week, approximately 220 million customers and members visit some entity of Walmart Inc.
Given benefits like these, working with Walmart is a no-brainer. You know what they say: if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. So get on board with the Walmart way, follow the compliance rules, be on time, and see your business grow.
Choose an efficient shipping methodology, like shared truckload, to meet Walmart warehouse requirements
So let’s break down the Walmart warehouse facts:
- It’s good to be in business with Walmart.
- Walmart distribution is an efficient and profitable way to get your product in front of millions of potential customers.
- It’s essential to follow all compliance rules to maintain a successful relationship with Walmart.
But how do you make sure every single shipment, regardless of size, is on-time and in-full? How do you ensure your pallets are well-taken-care-of? That your freight handlers are transporting your product with care?
Flock Freight® can help. Using cloud-based computing technology, Flock Freight combines multiple shipments that are moving along the same route into one shared truckload. Our shared truckload service, FlockDirect™️, moves directly from its pickup location to its destination — without passing through hubs or terminals. Because your shipment never leaves the truck during transit, your freight gets to its destination damage-free and on time, every time.
If you’re delivering to Walmart and need to ensure you are within compliance rules each and every time, join the Flock!