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Walmart ups bid for marketplace growth with new-seller promotion

Walmart's third-party marketplace is reducing commission rates for 90 days.

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Walmart's Marketplace is growing. (Photo courtesy of Walmart)

To kick off 2023, Walmart’s third-party marketplace is continuing to make moves to expand the number of sellers on the platform with a savings incentive.

The news: Starting this week, Walmart Marketplace is running a Seller Savings promotion for 90 days that provides new sellers with a 25% commission rate reduction. This allows sellers to try new tools including:

  • Walmart Fulfillment Services, which allows third-party sellers to tap Walmart’s logistics network, and in turn offer two-day shipping.
  • Sponsored search advertising, which allows brands to run search ads within the Walmart Marketplace.
  • Repricer: An automated pricing tool that automatically updates prices based on other ecommerce platforms, or Walmart Marketplace.
Key quote from Manish Joneja, SVP of Walmart U.S. Marketplace and Walmart Fulfillment Services: "Our New Year’s resolution is simple: To be our customers’ number-one shopping destination and the preferred easy-to-use, low cost and profitable platform for sellers of all sizes. That’s why we’re giving new sellers an extra boost to get their products in front of our customers."

Growing the Marketplace: Walmart’s third-party marketplace has been a focus area of expansion efforts from the world’s largest retailer, and it showed results in 2022. In the company’s most recent earnings report, executives said the Marketplace’s SKU count increased by 50% to 370 million SKUs, and it onboarded 8,000 new sellers in the quarter.

Along with services such as fulfillment and advertising, Walmart said it is continuing to upgrade its experience for sellers, including introducing a faster onboarding process. In September, the company also provided access to an advertising tool that boosts products to the top of search results called Search Brand Amplifier, and provided automatic onboarding to Walmart's ad portal upon launch. In a move to grow internationally, the company opened the Marketplace to Canadian sellers.

The flywheel spins: For Walmart, the Marketplace is a key part of its bid to grow ecommerce. Adding more sellers allows the retailer to expand the assortment of items available on the platform. This helps the company offer more items that keep shoppers coming back, and keep prices down. At the same time, Walmart is working to engage more repeat customers through its Walmart+ membership program. A bigger Marketplace also bolsters the importance of advertising on Walmart ecommerce, as brands seek ways to stand out on an ever-growing platform.

“We're scaling our newer businesses and connecting them to our larger, established retail businesses, primarily by how we design digital interactions,” Walmart CEO Doug McMillon told analysts on the earnings call. “One example is how our growth in ecommerce, especially the marketplace, fuels our ad business. More items and sellers drive GMV and improved customer satisfaction. And it also drives success in advertising. They're mutually reinforcing.”

What it means for marketplaces: Any discussion of third-party marketplaces would be incomplete without mention of Amazon, which pioneered the model and continues to operate a juggernaut through its Fulfillment by Amazon program. However, Walmart's emergence is one of the clearer signals that sellers are increasingly looking to have a presence across multiple marketplaces. Increasingly, ecommerce platforms are marketing to sellers, just as they are to consumers.

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