How Walmart is working to get more business from small business owners

The retail giant debuted Walmart Business six months ago, most recently launching an app and streamlined ordering, to try to capture orders of groceries, office supplies and more from nonprofits, mom-and-pops and others.
Walmart Business
Walmart added an app to its Walmart Business platform. / Photo courtesy: Walmart

Walmart stores have long had relationships with small businesses and nonprofits in their communities, as owners and office managers stop in regularly to buy coffee, office supplies, cleaning products, furniture and more.

About six months ago, the retail giant took steps to capture even more of those sales from small- and medium-sized businesses, with the launch of Walmart Business and membership-based Walmart Business+.

On Wednesday, Walmart Business added an app along with a streamlined ordering process to further build this sales channel.

“We saw at Walmart that we have a long history of supporting businesses and nonprofits,” Ashley Hubka, SVP and general manager of Walmart Business told WGB last month. “Our store managers will know the local business is coming in. We saw an opportunity to both serve them better and attract new customers in this space.”

Hubka said Walmart has taken a “very test-and-learn approach” as it has entered the business-to-business space.

The new Walmart Business app includes a broad product selection, the retailer said, with options to select curbside pickup at more than 4,700 U.S. stores as well as direct-to-office delivery scheduling. Up to five people from the same workplace can share account access. The app also allows customers to order large amounts of certain items, by typing the exact number in the quantity field.

Walmart has also added a partnership with service-provider platform Angi, to connect customers who might be looking for things like office furniture assembly or shelving installation.

Walmart Business users can also track spending through a new analytics tool that offers up data such as total spend by users, top categories and other spending patterns.

Walmart Business+ costs $98 per year and offers free shipping with no minimum order, free pickup and delivery with a $35 minimum order, 2% rewards on orders of $250 or more, and 5% savings on eligible items set to recurring order subscriptions.

Hubka said the program’s heaviest users are omnichannel shoppers who like the combination of in-store pickup, delivery and shipping.

“Our prime customers seek ease of use and convenience,” she said. “They’re efficient. They’re comfortable with e-commerce.”

The Walmart Business shopping site is organized around how a small- to medium-sized business would likely shop, with categories for breakroom, facility management, technology and more.

“Some of our strongest areas are breakroom—food, beverage, paper products,” Hubka noted. “We know that food is really powerful. We know that’s a strength of Walmart. Staples is selling bananas. When Staples is selling bananas, you can see there’s an appetite among people seeking office supplies to equip their organization … food is one of the things they need.”

E-commerce giant Amazon launched its Business Prime membership program in 2018. And delivery platform Instacart, also seeing potential in selling to offices, rolled out its Instacart Business channel in February, about a month after Walmart.

“It’s a huge strategic focus area for us,” Andrew Nodes, Instacart’s VP of business and supply chain, told WGB last month. “We saw that these customers were fantastic customers. They retain better. They have bigger baskets. They order from a variety of retailers.”

Walmart Business will continue to evolve, Hubka said.

“We’re continuing to expand our assortment,” she said. “We have millions of items already and will continue to expand. We’ll become more industry specific. There may be things that are specific to that profession we’ll want to add.”



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