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Walmart launches ecommerce site for SMBs, with membership

Walmart Business underscores the retailer's recent B2B expansion.

a person restocking shelves

Walmart Business is built for restocking. (Courtesy photo)

Walmart has a new ecommerce tool for businesses and organizations that buy supplies from the retailer.

The news: Walmart is launching a new ecommerce site and customer experience designed for small and medium-sized businesses, as well as nonprofits. Called Walmart Business, it helps smaller outfits tap Walmart’s ecommerce network, including fulfillment and delivery, to save money and keep supplies stocked.

What’s available on the platform? Walmart Business has an assortment of 10,000 items. These include products for:

  • Office supplies and furniture
  • Food and beverage
  • Restroom
  • Electronics
  • Classroom and facility needs

What are some of the other features? Walmart said it wants to enable the following:

  • Restocking: Items are grouped together so it is easier to reorder.
  • Multi-user accounts allow organizations to have multiple employees or members order. Payment info, order history and other details can also be shared across teams.
  • Tax exemption: Enrollment in Walmart Tax-Exemption Program (WTEP) automatically deducts taxes at checkout.

Subscription power: Just like Walmart+ for consumers, this ecommerce platform has a membership element. Walmart Business+ offers perks such as free shipping, free pickup and delivery, rewards and a 5% discount on certain items. Membership is $98/year.

Key quote from Ashley Hubka, SVP & General Manager of Walmart Business: “[SMBs and nonprofits] are under more pressure than ever due to inflation and supply chain issues, adapting to a hybrid workforce and post-pandemic behavioral shifts. For months, we’ve been working with SMBs and nonprofits to build solutions just for them, with tools tailored to help teams run smoother, have the right items on hand and easily find products to meet their needs.”

What it says about ecommerce:

B2B: This launch comes a week after Walmart debuted retail tech tools on Salesforce’s app marketplace. That means Walmart’s two biggest announcements of 2023 have been focused on providing products and services for other businesses. It’s clear that Walmart sees potential to put its ecommerce tools to work for others, and reap the benefits of big orders that are paid on the company card. Amazon has sold to other businesses for years, so it’s not totally new. But given Walmart’s scale, it’s worth watching because it could become a big business, quickly.

Plus up: The addition of a membership element indicates that Walmart sees its B2B arm as being interconnected with the rest of its business. Executives talk on most Walmart earnings calls about how the consumer version of Walmart+ has run-on benefits that not only help drive ecommerce, but also lead to more in-store shopping. Coupled with a wider assortment of items, high-frequency Walmart+ users are also helping to grow advertising. Business customers are shopping on the same website, so it makes sense that they will be part of the flywheel, as well.

Buy it again: Across many of Walmart’s recent digital releases, there has been a common theme: Restocking is getting easier. Walmart’s direct-to-fridge delivery was in part positioned around reordering staples. Its Text to Shop feature learns preferences, making it easy to buy favorites again. Now, Walmart Business is organizing items in a way that makes them easy to reorder. It makes sense that Walmart would want to encourage repeats. Easier restocking essentially builds in recurring revenue. Walmart is known for its “big basket” weekly trips to the store. Now, its ecommerce tools are equipped to have many of those stock-up staples delivered.

Building for tougher times: Adding new customers from businesses. Encouraging them to commit to Walmart by becoming members. Making it easy to replenish. These are all things that can help Walmart at a time when the general consumer environment is signaling pullback, and the company is seeing less discretionary spending on non-consumable items. It’s clear Walmart executives have reviewed the assets the company has, and identified where they can be tuned for new opportunities that align with the moment we’re in. That’s what successful businesses do during tough times.

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