The range of stuff you can buy on Walmart’s website has grown over the last few years. But not all of it is sold directly by Walmart itself.
That’s thanks to Walmart Marketplace, the retailer’s space for independent sellers. Marketplace functions similarly to Amazon’s army of third-party sellers: Businesses can list products for sale on Walmart.com, but they’re responsible for providing the goods, and, often, shipping them directly to customers.
The result is a wider selection of goods than Walmart could stock itself. A quick search on Walmart’s website can turn up replicas of military helmets for action figures that ship from a company in Wisconsin or pickle-flavored ice pops sold by a brand in Louisiana.
As of September, there were 100,000 active sellers on Walmart Marketplace, according to e-commerce intelligence provider Marketplace Pulse. That’s double the number there were 18 months earlier. Walmart launched Marketplace in 2009.
Walmart’s network of independent sellers is small compared to Amazon’s, which counts about 2 million sellers among its ranks. Sales from third-party sellers also make up a majority — over 60% — of sales on Amazon’s website, according to the company.
By contrast, Marketplace made up 10.7% of Walmart’s total e-commerce sales, according to Insider Intelligence — and an even smaller share of the company’s overall sales.
But Walmart is trying to build its Marketplace. In October, over half the sale items that Walmart advertised to ring in the holiday shopping season came from third-party sellers, CNBC reported.
In August, Walmart held its first-ever summit for third-party sellers in Las Vegas to convince small businesses of the advantages of selling on its website. “Walmart has a built-in base of hundreds of millions of loyal customers, our eCommerce business is thriving and we’re just getting started with Marketplace,” Manish Joneja, senior vice president, Walmart Marketplace and Walmart Fulfillment Services at Walmart U.S., said in a statement on the summit.
Among the new opportunities that Joneja touted for sellers: A business-to-business marketplace and Walmart Restored, which is dedicated to sellers who want to list refurbished goods on Walmart’s website. Walmart also plans to expand Marketplace to Chile in early 2024, Joneja said, adding to its current presence in the U.S., Canada, and Mexico.
The summit also told sellers about services that Walmart offers them, according to CNBC. Sellers can send bulk quantities of products to Walmart, for instance. The retailer then packages and ships them to customers.
But some sellers say that selling through Walmart isn’t as smooth as working with Amazon. One seller of supplements told trade publication Modern Retail last year that it stopped selling through Walmart Marketplace after it didn’t get notifications for orders placed through Walmart or adequate assistance from Walmart’s support team, for instance.