Guides » Alternative Marketplaces

From Amazon to Walmart: Why You Can’t Copy and Paste Your Strategy

By Daniel Sugarman

Amazon and Walmart are very different marketplaces, from their customer profiles and seller requirements to product data and fulfillment policies.

From Amazon to Walmart: Why You Can’t Copy and Paste Your Strategy

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Jack Phillips

As a business owner that sells on Walmart (and Amazon) you left out one of the biggest problems with Walmart. When it comes to technology and API, Walmart is woefully behind. If Amazon is the major leagues Walmart is the rookie league. It is very difficult to get items listed without an error. The errors are quite cryptic and often essentially amount to “try again”. I currently have 65 failed listings, all new items for us, that I am still working on. It works about 70% of the time. When high volume hit them in early April, we had quite a few out of stocks that resulted in out of stocks because their API restrictions. This seems to have resolved recently. Regarding pricing, they limit the downloads for repricing (evaluating competitors) to one per day according to some of my technology providers. Makes it difficult to change prices as often as you might in Amazon.

One really annoying thing is they do not allow spaces, dashes or period in the sku. But, their API doesn’t reject them on listing, it will list them. But, if you try to update inventory on them, it will error out, resulting in incorrect stock levels. Additionally, this wasn’t the case at first. They started rejecting updates unannounced! We had to update our SKUs to use underscores in place of dots or dashes (2/3 of SKUs) but luckily our multi-channel tool allowed us to only change Walmart and not the other channels.

Regarding service, we had a dedicated on boarding specialist (US based) which as great, mainly pushing “stuck” listings from the initial launch. After that, all service inquires are pushed to people with questionable English language skills and, who I suspect, are generic and actually do not know Walmart’s platform and just have documents of FAQs and common issues. I’ve yet to have any actually be helpful (although always polite).

Their seller interface is very bad, not intuitive either. Trying to find the fees paid is quite a feat.

All that said, after 9 months the volume has been growing. I feel like it is providing alternatives for people to Amazon and eBay.

Daniel Sugarman

Replying to Jack Phillips

Hey Jack, thanks for the feedback. I hear you—Walmart definitely has limitations that it’s still working out. Their recent integration with Shopify exposed similar bugs and made it overwhelmingly clear that there’s a lot more that goes into onboarding (and maintaining Walmart) than just plugging in data from one system to the next.

Truth be told, you almost always need a software that specializes in multichannel integrations to keep up with the level of data translation, catalog cleanup and 24/7 change management that’s currently needed.

But like you said, Walmart Marketplace still deserves credit; there are a number of folks who are benefiting from the “early mover” advantage (great to hear that you’re seeing positive results, by the way) despite Walmart’s infancy as a marketplace. I’m a big proponent of its potential, which will hopefully start to show even more in how the platform evolves over time.

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