If you’re like many e-commerce entrepreneurs, you may be wondering whether now’s the time to start selling via Walmart Marketplace. If so, Walmart’s recent website and app redesign might help sweeten the deal.
Walmart Chief E-commerce Officer Tom Ward recently announced a flashy new redesign of Walmart.com and the Walmart app, calling it “a sleek new look and experience that offers a more engaging way to browse and discover our incredible assortment.”
At the start of the pandemic, Walmart saw a massive uptick in online sales. Since then, its e-commerce profits have continued to climb steadily — albeit more slowly — digging deeper into Amazon’s share of the market.
What does Walmart’s new online experience offer, and what could it mean for your growing e-commerce business?
A Closer Look at Walmart Marketplace Redesign
- What’s New with Walmart’s Latest Web Redesign?
- How Walmart’s New Storefront Stacks Up Against Amazon’s
- Why This, Why Now: Making Sense of Walmart’s Latest Play
- Is Now the Time to Start Selling on Walmart?
What’s New with Walmart’s Latest Web and App Redesign?
As lockdowns came and went and the metaverse exploded, even brands who weren’t planning on opening a 3D virtual store or selling red carpet NFT dresses were looking for ways to bring the experience of brick-and-mortar shopping online.
In a world where a return to real life didn’t seem guaranteed, the big question on everyone’s lips was: How can we digitize the sense of delight a shopper gets when they stumble across the unexpected?
With its recent redesign, Walmart seems to be the latest e-commerce marketplace embracing this form of immersive browsability. Rather than heading straight to the search box, the new shopping experience feels thoughtfully engineered to keep the customer exploring.
Walmart’s new site design includes:
- Smoother, Sleaker Visuals: The new homepage features larger, glossier images on a scrolling interface reminiscent of Pinterest. A user can add or subtract many of the pictured products from their shopping cart with a single click — without leaving or reloading pages.
- Social Media-esque Scrolling: Walmart says the new look and feel are meant to replicate the experience of social media, and there has been talk of adding TikTok-esque scrollable, shoppable video shortly. The current rollout also has more long-form video offerings, via a partnership with TalkShopLive.
- Seasonal Approach to Promotion: The new design is extremely calendar-driven, with timely products and seasonal colors dominating the layout.
The net effect of all these changes is a festive interface that evokes the playfulness of in-store merchandising. For the Mother’s Day season, palettes of purples and pastels showcase photos of diverse women and children. Among them are product suggestions for products like purses, jewelry, and spa items, alongside taglines like “Her day, her way,” and “Dazzle her, under $50.”
Three Paths Toward More Visibility for Marketplace Sellers
According to Ward, the redesign is meant to help customers by “highlighting the items that matter most to them at any given moment,” and allow third-party sellers to “showcase more relevant products.”
There are three main ways Walmart and its new redesign may improve visibility for sellers.
A Bigger Spotlight on Seasonal Offers
Because the new design is so seasonally-driven, sellers who stay on-trend and tweak their offerings by time of year have a better chance of standing out. With the redesign, it’s easier to be in the right place and time for a serendipitous gift or party purchase. On the other hand, you’ll likely be competing with Walmart’s own holiday and special occasion offerings.
More Traffic + Less Competition
Walmart Marketplace still has a super-competitive application process. But with the increased push towards its marketplace and more customers turning to Walmart for their grocery needs, if you do make it in, you’ll be competing with fewer sellers for an ever-growing customer base.
A product search on the Walmart site doesn’t clutter the screen with an avalanche of sponsored hits for similar items. Because of the strict seller requirements, users are less likely to have to scroll through infinite, bizarrely named copycat brands to find your brand — at least for now.
How Walmart’s New Storefront Stacks Up Against Amazon’s
Discoverability on Walmart vs. Amazon
Let’s take a more in-depth look at how these changes play out, by comparing them with rival goliath Amazon. We took it for a spin ourselves to see how the shopper experience stacks up.
A search for “Olaplex” on Walmart’s homepage takes a user to a variety of Olaplex hair products. Some are sold by Walmart, and others are from a variety of third-party marketplace sellers.
The same search on Amazon, however, delivers nearly a full screen of clickable links for Goop products. Scrolling down, the user does get some Olaplex results, but they’re mixed in with several other hair care brands. The vast majority of the results from every brand list Amazon as the seller.
It seems safe to say that, as a third-party merchant, your odds of getting spotted on Walmart are higher. But Walmart’s search tool still has some bugs that may make it challenging for users to find you.
For instance, on Amazon, if a user misspells the luxe stationery company “Leuchtturm” as “Leuchtterm,” or even “lucctterm,” they still get tons of hits for the trendy German-engineered notebooks. On the other hand, depending on how badly a user misspells “Leuchtturm” on Walmart.com, they’ll get lots of random hits, or nothing at all.
A customer looking for your product on Amazon may need to weed through some competitive products to find you, but as long as they know what they’re looking for, chances are they will.
On Walmart, your product is more poised to stand out from the competition. But that’s only if a simple search error doesn’t prevent you from showing up at all. Walmart’s search engine may improve over time, but this may be something to be aware of in the meantime.
Key Differences Between Walmart and Amazon Marketplaces
A number of e-commerce journalists have pointed out the visual similarities between Walmart’s redesign and Amazon’s storefront. Some even see the redesign as nothing more than Walmart’s latest move in a long game of copy-catting Amazon’s growth tactics.
On a desktop or laptop, Walmart’s look is a bit sleeker and more modern, with rounded edges and more clearly defined clickable areas. On the mobile app, the basic layouts are relatively indistinguishable.
One clear difference is in what each site makes top-of-mind for the customer. Walmart’s site is, true-to-form, and extremely price-forward, with dollar amounts or sale percentages next to almost every item shown on the homepage. Amazon, on the other hand, shows few — if any — prices before the customer is a few clicks deep.
Ultimately, each site has its pros and cons. But with clear, consistent planning, you can get the best of both.
Why This, Why Now: Making Sense of Walmart’s Latest Play
Walmart expects “only modest sales growth” this year, as inflation prompts customers to spend more on essentials like gas and groceries, and less on discretionary purchases.
As Bloomberg notes, the emphasis on discovery and super-simplified add-to-cart functionality may be Walmart’s way of holding onto profits in this more volatile economy. In the summer of 2021, Walmart merged its online grocery and general shopping apps into one. Bringing a more seamless, scrollable experience to its online store could gently nudge customers to add more to their carts when they (virtually) reach for the lower-profit-margin eggs and milk.
Ward says he wants this new e-commerce journey “not to seem so transactional at a time when consumers are sensitive to prices.” By emulating social media and immersing the customer in holiday fun, the site becomes an experience.
Walmart has also been moving aggressively to attract third-party merchants, and it seems clear the company will continue to heavily invest in the space.
Walmart started off 2023 with a bang, offering new sellers a 25% commission reduction for the first three months of the year. In the latter half of 2022, it amped up its Spanish-language search capabilities to cater to a broader audience and target potential sellers with Spanish-speaking customers. Walmart has also made it easier for brands to succeed through sponsored search and other ad enhancements.
While the Walmart Marketplace redesign has already attracted a bit of buzz, it’s just one small piece of what seems like a much longer play for Walmart.
The Walmart Marketplace Redesign: What’s In It for Merchants?
There are now over 150,000 sellers on Walmart Marketplace — a 66% increase from the previous year. We’ve already covered some of the reasons why you might want to start selling on Walmart if you aren’t already. Let’s sum up how the redesign could impact your decision.
Potential Benefits for Sellers:
- Increased Profits: 95% of Walmart Marketplace sellers had a profitable business, versus closer to 85% of Amazon sellers. With the redesign reaffirming Walmart’s commitment to investing in e-commerce channels, it’s safe to say the company anticipates significantly more online traffic and revenue.
- More Exposure: Besides the visibility perks, the ratio of buyers to sellers is extremely favorable. With even more press and potentially heightened traffic, this redesign could be great for your bottom line.
- Lower Fees: Walmart still doesn’t charge a monthly subscription fee — only a fixed referral fee that’s typically between 6% and 15%. With the latest push around the redesign, now is a great time to keep an eye out for more seller offers and perks that could help drive your costs even lower.
Of course, there are other factors to take into account if you’re thinking about expanding via Walmart Marketplace. Here are some of the potential drawbacks for merchants.
- Strict Requirements: It can still be a challenge to get approved, which could mean lost time and administrative resources. Once you’re on the platform, Walmart’s strict pricing requirements could be another key consideration to plan for.
- UX Frustrations: It’s unclear whether Walmart has considered improving the user experience for sellers, not just customers. Complaints about Walmart Seller Central and Shopify integrations suggest it may be a bit more frustrating to use than other marketplaces.
- More Competition on the Way: With the company aggressively pushing for more new sellers and making more allowances for international sellers, it may not be long before the Walmart Marketplace becomes more competitive.
Success on Walmart could depend largely on what you sell since people head to each site for very different reasons. Shoppers typically head to Walmart for cleaning supplies and personal items, and to Amazon for books, games, and electronics. While the redesign could help Walmart upscale its brand perception, it’s unlikely to have a drastic effect on which items people associate with each marketplace.
Is Now the Time to Start Selling on Walmart?
At the end of the day, a shiny new Walmart Marketplace redesign won’t make or break your business. But with the right financial solutions behind you, it can be much easier to take new risks and test out new markets.
Explore the SellersFi Working Capital solution and learn how you use a tailored line of credit of up to $5 million to cover your fulfillment costs, make sure you never run out of inventory, and even boost your product’s visibility with sponsored search — no matter which marketplaces you choose to grow your business.