1. What is Walmart advertising?
Sellers and brands on the Walmart marketplace need to advertise for their products to be discovered. It’s simply the cost of doing business on a site like Walmart. To have the best chance of effectively matching your products with shoppers’ searches, a smart Walmart advertising strategy is critical.
Advertising on marketplaces like Walmart is one of the most powerful response weapons in a brand’s arsenal. So it’s absolutely critical, wherever a product is in its lifecycle, advertising needs to be part of that strategy.
What Sellers Need To Know About Walmart Advertising
Knowing where to start and where to focus your attention and advertising spend can be challenging. Sellers ask questions like:
- How much opportunity is there for third party sellers on Walmart.com?
- What are the advertising options?
- How do the ads work?
- How does an advertising strategy fit into an overall business strategy on the platform?
- How can a business determine if its ad strategy is effective?
- How can a business stay current with Walmart’s innovations?
This guide answers these questions and tells you everything you need to know to advertise on Walmart with confidence and to get the best return on your advertising spend.
Let Us Answer Your Walmart Marketplace Questions
Teikametrics was Walmart’s first advertising API partner. Our wealth of experience managing our clients’ ads on Walmart helped us pull together all the essential information in one easy guide. The goal is to give you a detailed resource for quickly launching advertising on Walmart, growing your business, and achieving profitability.
Teikametrics has been instrumental in us scaling our Sponsored Products performance on Walmart.com, and has enabled our business to achieve more success across Walmart overall. We’re extremely happy with the services, and recommend everyone use Teikametrics services if you really want to achieve more success for your business on Walmart.com.
Before we dive into the nuts and bolts of advertising on Walmart, let’s take a step back for anyone who’s not yet convinced of the value of the Walmart marketplace and consider the scope of the opportunity on the site.
2. Why Should Your Business Sell on Walmart?
Any business looking closely at trends in the ecommerce space is likely thinking about the Walmart marketplace as an opportunity for diversification and expansion. The opportunity on Walmart continues to grow exponentially. Here are some compelling reasons to sell on Walmart:
- Walmart.com is the second-largest ecommerce marketplace by volume
- Walmart’s own brand loyalty
- New audiences
- Competition is lower
- Walmart makes it easy for 3rd party sellers to be successful
- Channel expansion is great for your business
Walmart’s Brand Loyalty
Despite Amazon’s amazing reach, Walmart is actually the largest retailer in the US. That’s because of its strong brick and mortar presence, but its online marketplace is growing rapidly as well, with eMarketer noting Walmart.com has surpassed eBay as the second-largest ecommerce site. Walmart also ranks high in customer loyalty, so, like the trust you gain from selling on Amazon.com, you’ll benefit from that loyalty when selling on Walmart.com.
More and more people are shopping online. While Amazon and Walmart’s audiences do overlap, Walmart’s audiences are a bit different, as evidenced by the demographics the company shared in our webinar with them in April of 2020.
More than one-third of Walmart’s online customers are millennials (people between the ages of 23 and 28). This demographic set tends to live in metropolitan areas and collectively, they spend more than $600 billion every year with over half of their purchases taking place online. Over half of Walmart’s online customers are married or partnered, and almost that many have children, meaning they lean on the internet for more everyday purchases. More than half of Walmart’s online shoppers are homeowners with medium to high household incomes.
Competition on Walmart.com
With over 9.3 million sellers worldwide, competition on Amazon.com is ferocious. On the other hand, with less than 100,000 sellers, Walmart.com has a lot of room to grow, and competing is less difficult. As the platform continues to grow, it behooves a brand to go ahead and jump on while the competition is still relatively low. Fewer third-party sellers, and 728.5 million visits to Walmart.com? That alone should answer the question – why sell on Walmart?
Walmart Makes It Easy For Third Party Sellers
Walmart has made it very easy for third parties to get started selling on the online marketplace. Walmart doesn’t charge monthly or initial setup fees, unlike Amazon, Etsy, and eBay, to name a few. Sellers are charged a category-specific commission on sales they make on Walmart.com, at rates that vary depending on the category (between 6-20%). This is called a Referral Fee, and it is calculated as a percentage of the gross sales from each item.
When you list your products on Walmart.com, the company pushes those listings out to their affiliate websites like Shoes.com, Moosejaw.com, and more.
In addition to making it easier to sell on Walmart, the retail giant has made dramatic improvements to its consumer-facing website. The retailer’s great mobile app, and fast page checkouts with a myriad of payment options (Paypal included), are some of the reasons Walmart is now the second-largest ecommerce site in the US.
Channel Expansion Is Great For Your Business
If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that ecommerce success requires flexibility. Sellers had to be nimble and respond quickly to the many challenges faced that year. 2020 underscored how successful ecommerce businesses diversify logistics and strategy to meet demand from all sides. Expanding to Walmart.com is a great way to do that.
3. How Can You Get Started Selling on Walmart?
We provide a comprehensive guide to get started selling on Walmart, but the process is quite simple and doesn’t take many steps. As mentioned earlier, there are no fees associated with signing up or having your products on the Walmart platform. Instead, the company takes a referral fee on sales, depending on the category of the product.
Step 1 – Initiate the Request
To get your business live on Walmart.com you’ll need to fill out the Marketplace Application, but first, you’ll want to gather the documents needed to complete it. You’ll need:
- Your US business tax ID
- EIN Verification letter and W9 or W8
- How you’ll plan to upload your catalog (API, bulk, service provider)
- Information about your products, including primary category, catalog size, etc
Note that once you start the application, you’ll have to finish it, as progress is not saved if you close the tab on your browser. It should only take 15-20 minutes to complete the application, and Walmart recommends Google Chrome as the preferred browser.
Step 2 – Approval and Agreement
Walmart takes about two weeks to review applications. A Business Development Manager will connect with applicants to help with the verification process, and if you are approved, you’ll have to sign the Retailer Agreement and begin onboarding.
Step 3 – Registration
When Walmart approves you as a seller and you’ve signed the Retailer Agreement, you’ll get an email that will invite you to set up your account. This email will take you to Seller Center, where you’ll add your products and provide fulfillment details. But first, you have to create your account. You’ll need:
- Your company address
- Bank account details
- Business information necessary to complete the Form W-9
Create your display name (the name shoppers will see on Walmart.com) and the address Walmart will use for internal records. Fill out the tax information, then proceed into the payment information section.
Note that Walmart has partnered with Payoneer for processing payments to sellers on the Walmart marketplace. You’ll start your registration process for your Payoneer account in Seller Center, but you’ll complete it on Payoneer’s website.
Soon after that is done, you’ll get an email that your Payoneer account is set up and ready to receive and withdraw funds.
Enter the shipping details, your pricing model, the shipping method, and region, and then it’s time to add your products. You can do this manually, via bulk upload, or use a third-party service like Shopify to accomplish this.
Best Practices For Listings on Walmart.com
Getting your catalog onto Walmart.com is great, but making sure the listings are properly set up is incredibly important. Here is a list of tips to ensure you hit the ground running:
- Make sure your products are categorized correctly – a product has to be tagged by category to be searchable.
- Optimize your listings – organic and paid searches are matched to the product detail page. Make sure product titles, keywords, and descriptions are well thought out to maximize success and optimize your advertising efforts.
- Attempt to get reviews and ratings, using only methods that are compliant with Walmart’s policies
Fulfillment For Walmart.com
Not all sellers have access to Walmart Fulfilment Services, the fulfillment solution that uses the retailer’s own fulfillment network, so choosing a fulfillment strategy is important. Walmart offers five levels of shipping speed – value, standard, three-day, two-day, and next-day. Keep in mind that being able to offer shoppers rapid shipping has a meaningful impact on conversion rates.
And, finally, advertise your listings!
4. How Does Advertising Work On Walmart?
Walmart advertising has a lot in common with Amazon advertising, but also important differences that you need to understand to succeed as a Walmart seller.
The main advertising type for Walmart sellers is a pay-per-click (PPC) ad known as Sponsored Products. This ad type enables you to promote your products within the search results page on Walmart.com. Because it is a PPC auction, you’re competing against other sellers who are bidding on the same search. You will only pay when a shopper clicks on your ad.
Auto and Manual Campaigns
Campaigns are broken down into two categories – auto and manual. Auto campaigns match your ads with consumer searches based on product listing information. Manual campaigns allow you to control which search terms you bid on by entering keywords into those campaigns.
At Teikametrics, we take an explore and exploit approach to auto and manual campaigns. Auto campaigns are great for exploring keyword performance and discovering new keywords that lead to conversions for your products. Manual campaigns are great for exploiting the knowledge gained in auto campaigns by specifically targeting keywords that have proven effective. It’s smart to use both ad types simultaneously and strategically.
Match Smart Ad Strategy With Great Product Offerings
Advertising on Walmart is most successful when it’s attached to great products with well-developed product listings. Product titles, photos, accurate and thorough product descriptions, and all the information a shopper needs to make an informed choice should be present. Also pay attention to delivery times, prices, and reviews, all of which shoppers take into account when making decisions. Finally, products must be correctly categorized on Walmart for ads to actually appear.
It works like this:
A shopper goes to Walmart.com to purchase a mop. They type into the search bar “mop.”
You’ve developed an innovative new mop product so you’re offering it on the Walmart marketplace, have optimized your listing, and are running Sponsored Products ads for your mop. If you win the auction, your product appears on the search results page (marked as Sponsored).
With a great product and a well-executed ad, chances are the shopper will click on that ad (meaning you pay your bid amount) and make a purchase. You’ve just taken that mop sale away from another mop seller who hasn’t mastered advertising on Walmart.
The Art And Science of Walmart Keyword Bidding
There’s both an art and a science to Walmart keyword bidding. The science comes from a careful analysis of market research and keyword performance paired with a bidder purpose-built for Walmart’s first-price auction. The art comes from an expert understanding of both your product catalog and the inner workings of the Walmart marketplace.
We recommend building Walmart ad campaign structures that will enable you to have a high degree of control over your bidding strategy for each product, and for each keyword type that holds different levels of value for your business. Use ad groups to separate generic, brand, competitor, and marketplace keywords, each of which warrants a different approach.
The more you can laser in on the value of each keyword and each bid for each product you’re advertising, the more you’ll put yourself in a better position to effectively execute a sound bidding strategy, and run a profitable Walmart marketplace business.
5. How Is Walmart Innovating?
Walmart’s advertising ecosystem is much newer than Amazon’s, but the company has made terrific strides since launching Sponsored Products back in January 2020. While many of these developments help close the gap with Amazon, it’s worth noting the numerous pieces of new functionality for Walmart advertisers that surpass what’s offered elsewhere.
We’re really growing in a meaningful, and what we believe is the right way.
What’s new for Walmart Marketplace sellers?
Pro Seller Badge
For consumers, deciding to purchase on an online marketplace is often a matter of trust. Reviews are the most prominent example of this, but a seller’s reputation matters to buyers as well. Walmart helps trusted sellers stand out thanks to its Pro Seller Badge, which shows up both on the product page, along with the search results page. The badge assures consumers of delivery times and quality, along with the ability to return items from those sellers for free either online or in-store.
The requirements for a seller to get the badge can be monitored via the Listing Quality Dashboard in Seller Center. They are as follows:
- Listing Quality Score must be at least 50% for 60% or more of your trending items
- Delivery defect rate of 5% or less
- A cancellation rate of 1% or less
- 100% of your items offer free online and in-store returns
More In-Grid Sponsored Placements
Walmart has taken a deliberate approach rolling-out both its Marketplace and ad ecosystem. The goal is differentiating Walmart.com from other marketplaces by having a more curated network of sellers, along with consistently relevant search pages. That latter point is why you can’t advertise a product outside of its category, and also why there is a limit on how many ads appear on a given search results page.
While Walmart began with ads only appearing in a select few possible slots within the ‘grid’, now ads can now populate any position on page 1 of the search results, with a limit on total sponsored items per page. The exact position is determined based on relevancy and bid amount. As a note, a single product can only appear on a given search result page once (either organic or paid). Additionally, your Sponsored Product ad will only appear (and you’ll only pay) if it would match or outrank your organic placement for that product.
In-Store Sales Data
If you have products that are sold both on Walmart.com and in Walmart stores, you can track the impact of online Sponsored Product campaigns on in-store sales. This information can be viewed within Seller Center and can be incredibly valuable to judge the full impact of your advertising efforts on Walmart.com.
Platform-Level Reporting & Targeting
An impactful addition to Walmart’s ad reporting functionality at the onset was the ability to both target and measure ads based on where they appeared for consumers (e.g. mobile, web, in-app). This isn’t something that Amazon offers advertisers, and depending on the product or category, can have major implications for how you allocate budget or structure campaigns.
At Teikametrics, we’ve seen certain clients have significant splits in performance on mobile web vs. desktop. This prompted us to recommend higher bids and larger budget allocations specifically to mobile-only campaigns to take advantage. Similar to keywords, which speak to a consumer’s stage in the purchase journey and their likelihood to convert, platform-level reporting and targeting add a layer of granularity that you as a seller should use to more effectively advertise.
Walmart’s goal is to only have reputable sellers listed on its marketplace. To this end, among other requirements, you need to be a seller with a history of selling on ecommerce sites when applying to sell on Walmart.com. In mid-2020, Walmart made this a bit easier for direct-to-consumer merchants to navigate by building a direct connection with Shopify.
Shopify sellers can install the Walmart Marketplace app from Shopify’s App Store to determine their eligibility. Once approved, you can then add any number of products from your D2C site directly to Walmart Marketplace, which automatically imports things like product titles and imagery. If you make changes to a listing, those changes will automatically be reflected on Walmart’s site. Additionally, sales of those products on Walmart.com will come through like any other sale on your Shopify site, helping ease fulfillment.
For automatic campaigns, you can increase the chance of securing premium placements such as search in-grid and Buy Box banner using bid multipliers. With automatic campaigns, you are allowing Walmart to place your ads where it believes they are a good fit, but bid multipliers give you a bit more control in terms of which campaigns you want to prioritize for specific, higher-profile placements.
First Price Auction
Unlike Amazon which uses a second-price auction, Walmart ads operate on a first-price auction. That means whoever bids the highest on the ad wins the auction and pays whatever that highest bid amount was, assuming the ad is clicked.
While a second-price auction allows you to potentially take advantage of competitors’ underbidding on a keyword, a first-price auction has advantages in terms of more accurately reflecting how you value a given click when you place your bid. As a very rudimentary example, with a second-price auction, you may bid $3.00 but only pay $0.61 since your next closest competitor bid $0.60. This can create issues if competitors escalate their bids significantly, leading to costs that may not accurately reflect the value you place on that keyword. Granted, having an AI-enabled bidding engine helps mitigate some of this risk, by slowly reducing bids until win rates are impacted.
With a first-price auction, exploratory bidding is key. By slowly increasing bids upward, and keeping an eye on metrics like conversion rates and conversion volume, you can properly value a given keyword, keep win rates high, and avoid overspending. This is something Teikametrics helps with as part of our Walmart offering.
Walmart keyword bidding is a process, not a destination. Start by setting goals for your campaigns. Knowing what you want to achieve will dictate KPIs and help you to hone in on the metrics that matter for your business.
6. How Can I Get Help with My Walmart Advertising?
Walmart’s advertising team has developed an array of resources to help you navigate challenges getting set up with ads, or when managing active campaigns. But keep in mind that issues with your advertising on Walmart.com may be due to things like fulfillment challenges or non-optimized product listings.
Resources To Support Your Walmart Business
We put together a detailed list of resources for selling on Walmart that spans Walmart’s own programs, along with outside guidance.
We’ve broken the list into seven segments, which span the most critical areas of managing, and successfully growing, your business on Walmart.com:
- Signing up to sell on Walmart
- Common setup questions
- Walmart programs
- Tools to optimize your listings
- Ways to garner reviews
- Options to handle order fulfillment
- Resources to optimize your advertising
These are listed in order of importance, as having an optimized listing is a prerequisite for being able to effectively garner reviews and advertise. Paying careful attention to these steps, and looking for help when you need it, will put you in a much better position to grow your business over both the short- and long-term.
Advertising can go a long way to educate consumer audiences and drive them toward purchases, but if your business is not prepared to delight the customer with everything that happens after they arrive at a product page, that advertising is wasting your time and money.
Work With A Trusted Partner To Manage Your Ads
After looking through these resources, you still may need some extra help. This is particularly true if you are having trouble ramping up on Walmart.com, are in a particularly competitive market, or simply have a larger, more complex product catalog. As part of Teikametrics’ Walmart services offering, we’ve helped sellers large and small navigate this wide variety of challenges, either via our analyst team or through our network of trusted partners.
Good luck with your Walmart business, boosted by a smart advertising strategy. We hope this guide helps you to achieve all your goals!