Walmart suppliers, here’s the best way to ship to distribution centers
If you have a small or medium-size company, you know one of the best ways to increase sales and grow brand awareness is to partner with a large-scale retailer. Not only does this give you more exposure, but it often provides you with built-in management tools and top-end customer support, leaving you with more time to focus on your product line.
One of the largest retailers to offer such an opportunity is Walmart, through its online Walmart Marketplace. But partnering with a globally recognized household name comes with strict seller requirements. In fact, the company launched an on-time, in-full (OTIF) program in 2017 to keep shelves stocked and customers satisfied. The program’s other goals include increasing opportunities for sales and the consistency of deliveries to Walmart distribution centers.
Walmart’s supply chain runs like a well-oiled machine. To maintain this status quo, suppliers must deliver their orders not early and not late, but right on time. This is the only way for Walmart to meet its targets for inventory levels and ensure your products are available to customers. If you don’t meet Walmart’s requirements, your seller rating — and your budget — are on the line.
Here’s a look at what Walmart Marketplace offers, its seller requirements, and some ways you can leave the prospect of late deliveries in your rear-view mirror.
Selling on Walmart Marketplace
Similar to other major marketplaces like Amazon, Walmart Marketplace helps businesses of all sizes sell products to a massive, nationwide audience, a sometimes difficult goal for companies that rely on organic search and grassroots outreach for the majority of their sales. Walmart takes a small referral fee from each sale you make, but charges no subscription or sign-up fees.
There are tons of benefits of selling your product through a major marketplace like Walmart. A few of them include:
- No setup or subscription fees.
- Exposure to a customer base of more than 100 million visitors.
- Easy product and pricing management through Walmart’s Seller Center.
- Customizable shipping methods and pricing.
- Access to fulfillment services that qualify for free two-day shipping for customers.
Curious about that last bullet? Unlike competitors such as Fulfillment by Amazon, Walmart does not fulfill Marketplace orders itself. Rather, Walmart requires you to:
- Ship all orders through Marketplace directly to the customer.
- Ship your items to Walmart’s recommended distribution centers that are pre-approved for two-day delivery.
These distribution centers use Walmart less-than truckload (LTL) carriers to ship your order from the center to your customer. However, you’re still responsible for getting your freight to that distribution center on time and in line with all of Walmart’s seller requirements.
Walmart supplier requirements
You must package and ship your products according to Walmart’s standards, or else the company won’t accept your products into the Marketplace. The standards include:
- No branded shipping boxes or boxes that include your company name.
- No promotional materials.
- Packing slip, which the Walmart Seller Center can create automatically.
- Valid tracking number for each order.
One key difference that sets Walmart Marketplace apart from some of its competitors is its “Seller Performance Standards.” To partner with Walmart, shippers need to meet established thresholds that ensure customer satisfaction. These include:
- An order defect rate of less than 2% over 90 days.
- An accurate, valid tracking rate of over 99%.
- An on-time shipment rate of over 99%.
While the first two points are generally within the seller’s control, it is perhaps this last point that becomes problematic for many LTL shippers. Because LTL’s hub-and-spoke system moves your goods with other items going to different destinations and you don’t use your own fleet of trucks for delivery, you typically have little control over your freight once it leaves your loading dock. The complicated LTL system trans-loads your shipment at multiple terminals before delivery, providing all too many opportunities for something to go wrong. As a result, delays are common.
As if the stakes weren’t high enough, Walmart recently made its on-time, in-full (OTIF) requirements stricter for brick-and-mortar and e-commerce purchase orders. The latest directive requires suppliers and their carriers to deliver orders accurately and by their “must-arrive-by” dates 98% of the time. Otherwise, Walmart will impose a fine of 3% of the cost of the goods. The new rule applies to “prepaid” transactions — where the seller pays for shipping and manages the transportation process — and falls in line with the OTIF mandates of Walmart competitors Amazon and Target.
How to avoid Walmart’s fees
Whether you’re shipping directly to your customer or to one of Walmart’s partner distribution centers, there are steps you can take to ensure that you always meet on-time delivery standards.
- Use the Walmart Seller Center to set up reasonable, accurate shipping windows that you’re confident you can meet every time. There are plenty of tiers to choose from. Choose wisely!
- Remember to provide shipping confirmation and tracking information every time you receive an order. That way, Walmart knows what to expect (and doesn’t penalize you) before the expected shipping dates.
- Keep detailed and accurate records of every shipment. If you can prove to Walmart that circumstances beyond your control prevented a shipment from arriving on time, Walmart will adjust your record so that the infraction doesn’t count against you.
- Use a freight broker like Flock Freight® for both your customer and distribution center shipping to ensure on-time delivery.
Using Flock Freight’s shared truckload service is one of the best ways to meet any OTIF standard. We use our algorithm-backed shared truckload solution to give you complete control over the pickup and delivery dates and move your freight hubless. No one handles your freight until delivery, and there are no slowdowns at terminals; it’s just fast, stress-free freight service.
Book shared truckload shipping and receive truckload (TL) service for freight that measures 8-44 linear feet and up to 36,000 pounds (which would otherwise move through LTL’s hub-and-spoke model). Flock Freight’s proprietary technology finds a carrier that can haul your shipments along an efficient route. From there, we move your goods directly to your chosen Walmart distribution center or to your customer. Shared truckload service ensures your freight arrives on time, every time.
Flock Freight is the only logistics provider that guarantees shared truckload shipping.