What Is Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS)?

Michelle Thompson

October 26, 2020

As reported in January, Walmart U.S. ecommerce sales grew 35% in 2019. Building on that momentum in early 2020, the company announced Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), a new fulfillment capability for Walmart.com marketplace sellers that began rolling out in late February.

Built by Walmart with sellers, for sellers, the program offers low, transparent pricing (often lower than FBA), personalized account management, inventory forecasting, and the opportunity for businesses to scale profitability and assortment. Customers benefit from a larger assortment of premium brands and products, easy returns, dedicated customer care, and perhaps most significant—no annual membership or subscription fees.

Walmart’s ecommerce growth over the last 4 years

Walmart’s ecommerce catapult began in 2016 with its $3.3 billion acquisition of Jet.com, which has now been retired. Walmart ecommerce grew 35.8% that year, outpacing Amazon’s 25.2% growth.

Then 2017 was another year of growth with the acquisitions of shoebuy.com and moosejaw.com, and a 42.8% increase in ecommerce sales.

Now, into 2020, Walmart.com has passed eBay to become the second-largest ecommerce marketplace in the U.S., and its growth continues to outpace that of its two largest competitors, Amazon and eBay. While Amazon lost 10.4% of the marketshare between 2018 and 2020, Walmart experienced an almost 50% sales share growth. Thanks to this rapid growth, Walmart’s 2020 ecommerce sales are estimated to near $30B, a $9B increase from 2019. WFS is the next step for Walmart in competing for increased marketshare and sales and could be the next step for you to grow your brand with multichannel selling.

Just this year, Walmart launched their new Walmart+ subscription service, again mirroring and competing with Amazon to grow their ecommerce capabilities and grab even more marketshare.

Walmart Fulfillment Center, WFS

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com.

Pattern and Walmart’s WFS beta program

Pattern had the unique opportunity to take part in the WFS beta release and help Walmart.com build out this new capability. Because Pattern already has products listed in Walmart’s marketplace, and with our extensive FBA experience, the beta release was an exceptional opportunity offered by Walmart.

Leveraging Walmart’s supply chain infrastructure and ecommerce network now allows us to more efficiently fulfill orders, boost sales, and grow and protect our brands on Walmart.com. We can also help brands launch advertising campaigns on Walmart, effectively track Walmart ads, set up Walmart Sponsored Products, win on Walmart’s SEO algorithm, and more.

WFS logistics

Through WFS, Walmart—the no. 1 retailer in the U.S.—handles all refunds, returns, and customer service. Walmart fulfillment centers store, pack, pick, and ship all eligible products. However, restrictions do apply, and all items must currently meet the dimensional requirements of 25” x 20” x 14” and must weigh less than 30 lbs. Sellers must ship products to Walmart fulfillment centers from somewhere in the United States, and perishable or regulated products aren’t eligible.

Fees are determined by weight and cover Walmart storage, fulfillment, and customer and seller support. Walmart WFS only ships to the 50 U.S. states, some military addresses, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The advantages of WFS

Perhaps the most attractive feature of WFS for customers is the simple, quick process for deliveries and returns. As long as customers spend at least $35 on their order, they receive guaranteed free 2-day shipping—no membership or annual fees required. This guarantee offers an attractive alternative for customers who may order on marketplaces like Amazon without the shipping benefits of paid memberships.

Returns through WFS are easy, too—the U.S. is home to 20 Walmart fulfillment centers and 4,700 stores, and 90% of Americans live within 15 minutes of a Walmart store, making returns quick and convenient. Unlike stores like Whole Foods or Kohls, where Amazon customers can return purchases, Walmart holds an unparalleled prevalence in the U.S., with 95% of Americans shopping in a Walmart store or on Walmart.com in 2019.

Brands also have a lot to love about Walmart WFS. For one, it’s low-cost. After you send your items to a Walmart fulfillment center, Walmart stores it within 1-2% of Amazon storage pricing. The fulfillment service also helps preserve your brand integrity by giving brands price control of inventory and avoiding commingling inventory by default, which reduces fraud and mislabeling. Walmart’s practice of storing sellers’ products separately makes it less likely for your brand to be held accountable for another merchant’s defective or damaged products.

Compared to ecommerce giant Amazon, Walmart WFS has a better buyer to seller ratio—on Walmart’s website, brands compete with 30K other sellers instead of Amazon’s 3 million, making it easier for your brand to reach Walmart’s 116 million unique monthly visitors.

Although Amazon FBA certainly has the benefit of time and experience, Walmart has the benefit of the world’s largest supply chain infrastructure with great storage and shipping capabilities. Items in the WFS program also receive both TwoDay and Fulfilled by Walmart tags, giving them higher search rankings, conversion, and Buy Box prominence.

Which products are a good fit for WFS?

Although Walmart stores are typically associated with their “everyday low prices” and budget buys, Walmart.com is shifting its focus to a younger, urban, and more affluent demographic, according to Retail Dive.

After acquiring several high-end ecommerce platforms, Walmart.com now sells luxury items like Rolex watches, Louis Vuitton handbags, and Chanel perfume. According to Cody Parrot, a Senior Brand Manager at Pattern, “luxury brands can find great success on the re-branded platform.” If the success of WFS in 2020 is any indication, these brands can generate even more revenue through WFS.

It is worth noting, however, that Walmart’s rapid ecommerce growth isn’t due to luxury brands alone, and the corporation is expanding its assortment to all brands that are currently not on Walmart.com.

Walmart suggests brands can increase their revenue with WFS by prioritizing items and brands new to Walmart.com, selecting competitively-priced products, creating high-quality page content for each item, providing sufficient inventory, and joining the Walmart Sponsored Products Program. Conversely, Walmart does not recommend products for WFS if they already have multiple offers on Walmart.com or have poor item page content.

How the WFS Seller Center portal works

The WFS portal is located in Seller Center alongside Seller Fulfilled listings. To convert Seller Fulfilled items to WFS, Walmart.com provides a specification sheet that includes additional information required for fulfillment, including tax codes, packaged product dimensions, hazmat identification, etc.

Once this specification sheet is completed and uploaded in Walmart Seller Center, the product becomes WFS eligible and is ready to ship into Walmart fulfillment centers.

WFS Seller Center Portal

How Walmart fulfillment works

In order for a Walmart fulfillment center to receive product, the seller must submit a purchase order (PO) through Walmart’s Global Supply Chain Operations system (GSCOPE). The seller simply downloads a PO file, fills in the product information, and uploads the spreadsheet into the system.

Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS)

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com.

GSCOPE tracks the progress of the PO in a dedicated feed; once the PO has successfully uploaded, the fulfillment center is ready to receive the product and the listing can go live. In GSCOPE, the seller can track items received and inventory numbers including on hand units, reserved units and damaged units.

In Walmart Seller Center, Walmart tracks sales, shipping performance, customer returns, and sellers can easily view metrics, edit listings, and manage price promotions and product updates.

Walmart Fulfillment Services Center (WFS)

Photo courtesy of Walmart.com.

Should I use Walmart Fulfillment Services?

Thus far, Pattern has seen great success with the new WFS program. Our sales on Walmart increased 3,000% post-launch, and Buy Box attainment jumped as well.

Moreover, given the program has significantly fewer sellers, Walmart.com sellers receive nearly 27,000 visitors per month, compared to roughly 2,100 visitors on Amazon. Less competing sales equals more product sold and increased revenue for your brand.

Pattern partner Thorne Research saw a 207% increase in Walmart.com sales from the first half of November 2019 to the last half. The difference? On Nov. 13, Thorne Research began selling through Walmart Fulfillment.

Although Thorne Research only sold on WFS for the last month and a half of 2019, the sales made in that time comprised 25% of the brand’s total Walmart.com sales for the year. Equally impressive is the 62% increase in sales between December 2018 marketplace sales and 2019 WFS sales. This success continued into 2020 with 22 more Thorne Research Products on WFS and a 771% increase in sales year over year between October 2019 and March 2020.

With WFS, Pattern has seen a 166% increase in business year over year and a 176% increase in incremental revenue from January to March 2020. So far, Walmart Fulfillment has proved to be a powerful tool for brands to increase their visibility and revenue on the Walmart marketplace.

Even if your brand isn’t currently selling on Walmart.com, you can still apply to sell on WFS. Selling on multiple marketplaces can help you build brand recognition, reach different demographics, and mitigate risk. According to Stitch Labs, retailers who sell on two marketplaces see 190% more revenue than those who sell on just one. With Walmart’s rapid ecommerce growth in recent years, there’s no better time than now to reap the benefits of diversifying your marketplace.

Are you ready to grow your business and protect your brand on Walmart.com? We can help. Contact a Pattern representative today through the form below and we’ll be in touch.

Editor’s Note: This blog, originally published February 25, 2020, has been updated and republished to reflect our most recent data on the topic.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us