Walmart Business launches as a B2B e-commerce site
The world’s largest retailer aims to expand its reach as a business products distributor, leveraging its e-commerce expertise and dominant store and distribution network to provide a high level of service to small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations.
Our focus is on reducing purchasing complexity, reducing costs and giving our customers more opportunities to serve their customers.
Ashley Hubka, senior vice president and general manager
The initiative, dubbed Walmart Business, aims to provide a one-stop shop for office supplies, furniture, groceries and electronics, Ashley Hubka, the program’s senior vice president and general manager, said in an interview with Bloomberg. Walmart also offers a business membership plan, Walmart Business+, which offers additional savings like free shipping on all orders for an annual fee of $98.
According to Walmart, the site is tailored to the needs of businesses and nonprofits, and will provide more convenience for busy purchasing managers. That will enable the company to attract new business buyers and, in the case of existing customers, “earn a bigger share of their wallets,” Hubka said.
Take on Staples, Costco and Amazon
Walmart is betting the company will help it compete with rivals like Staples Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Amazon.com Inc., which have ramped up efforts to woo smaller businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Wall Street analysts predict that Walmart will be a slow-growing behemoth over the long term, and finding new sources of demand is a key challenge.
The retailer launched Walmart Business — at business.walmart.com — in September 2022 with little fanfare, Hubka said. Now, after refining the product range based on user feedback, the company aims to increase growth.
The site features an assortment of more than 100,000 items for shoppers looking to purchase equipment, replenish supplies and feed employees. Up to five users can share a single account.
Walmart has been working with SMBs and nonprofits “for months” to “build solutions just for them, with tools tailored to help teams work more smoothly, have the right items at hand, and easily buy products.” find ones that meet their needs,” Hubka says in an announcement on Walmart.com. She adds that Walmart Business will address the needs of such organizations to save money and spend less time on business purchases while storing their inventory more efficiently to support their business operations and increase sales.
Built on Walmart’s Store and DC networks
“Our focus is on reducing purchasing complexity, reducing costs, and giving our customers more ways to serve their customers and communities,” says Hubka. She adds that Walmart Business “was built to take advantage of the best of Walmart.” These include its store and distribution network being within 10 miles of 90% of the US population and its e-commerce, fulfillment and delivery technologies.
At the top of the Walmart Business home page, the site displays a visitor’s zip code and a link to the nearest Walmart, and asks the question, “How would you like your items?” Below the question are three linked icons for “Shipping”, “Pickup” and “Delivery”. When the visitor clicks on a link to their nearest Walmart store, a drop-down menu also displays the nearest Walmart and Walmart Supercenter.
The site also features several images representing “top categories” of office furniture, office supplies, food and freshness, technology (including laptops and phones), paper products and dispensers, pet care, cleaning and personal care. Other product categories include Restroom, Classroom, Facility (including cooling and heating, security and electrical products) and Professional (including automotive, beauty, health, hospitality and sports & fitness).
Sam’s Club also wants more B2B customers
Based in Bentonville, Arkansas, the company offers Walmart Business+ as the corporate counterpart to its Walmart+ membership program for consumers. The business version offers free shipping, plus 2% bonuses on orders of $250 or more, and savings of up to 5% on select items on subscription orders.
Another membership-based company vying for business customers is Sam’s Club, Walmart’s own warehouse operation. Hubka said there’s enough demand for Walmart itself to attract more new business-to-business sales without cannibalizing its corporate cousin’s revenue.
“This will benefit Walmart overall,” she said. “We think there’s a really big market.”
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