Wal-Mart to Expand its Third-Party Online Marketplace
In a continuing effort to grow product assortment online, Wal-Mart announced last week that it has partnered with ChannelAdvisor to integrate its third-party marketplace with the cloud-based e-commerce solutions provider. The news was announced at the ChannelAdvisor Catalyst Americas conference in Las Vegas. The partnership will enable Wal-Mart to increase the number of retailers and brands that list their products on Walmart.com, while ChannelAdvisor’s customers gain access to Wal-Mart’s massive audience.
In this interview with Bao Nguyen, media relations, Wal-Mart global e-commerce and technology, we delve deeper into why growing its online marketplace has become a key initiative for the traditional brick-and-mortar retailer.
Total Retail: Why is Wal-Mart investing in its third-party online marketplace?
Bao Nguyen: Investing in our marketplace is part of our strategy to expand Walmart.com’s assortment and provide customers with more of the products they’re looking for. Our assortment on Walmart.com has grown from less than 2 million four years ago to 9 million now through a mix of first-party and third-party items, and we aim to be in the tens of millions of items in the next few years.
TR: How will the merchants that sell on the marketplace be selected?
BN: We select sellers based on experience, scale and reputation related to quality of assortment, strength of pricing and customer service track record.
TR: Will there be requirements that sellers on the marketplace must adhere to (e.g., pricing, shipping time, customer service levels, etc.)? If so, what will those be and how will they be monitored?
BN: We have high expectations of our sellers, and expect them to uphold the same standards customers have come to expect from Wal-Mart. We monitor these in real time and regular cadences, and work closely with sellers on an ongoing basis to make sure they’re meeting or exceeding our customers’ expectations.
TR: How will Wal-Mart's brick-and-mortar stores and first-party e-commerce site be integrated with the third-party marketplace?
BN: On Walmart.com, customers can find third-party marketplace products when they shop our site (browsing, searching, etc.). Items sold by third-party sellers are noted in the item information in search results, online shelves and on item pages.
TR: Why did Wal-Mart choose ChannelAdvisor as its integration partner for the online marketplace?
BN: We've been working with ChannelAdvisor over the last few years to launch and develop our marketplace and onboard a handful of sellers. Now we’re on board officially to accelerate the expansion of our marketplace — making the process of connecting new sellers to our marketplace easier.
TR: Do you see Wal-Mart's third-party marketplace as a competitor to Amazon.com?
BN: Our focus is on our customers. They have options to choose from to shop online, and by adding millions more item over the next few years, we’re giving them more reasons to shop Walmart.com.
TR: What are the business goals that Wal-Mart hopes to achieve with its third-party marketplace?
BN: Again, this goes back to our strategy to expand Walmart.com’s assortment and provide customers with more of the products they’re looking for.
TR: Can you provide any results into how the Wal-Mart Marketplace has performed up to this point?
BN: We don’t have numbers to share aside from the fact that in the last few years we expanded our assortment from 2 million to 9 million items, and our Marketplace was a major contributor to that.
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