Get ready to learn another acronym, WFS (Walmart Fulfillment Services).
Walmart revealed today that it has officially launched its ecommerce fulfillment network for marketplace sellers called Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS). The program had been in a limited beta.
WFS will roll out slowly from beta but it is now inviting interested marketplace seller to apply. The fulfillment service is built on Walmart’s ecommerce fulfillment network the company uses for its own ecommerce business.
Walmart explains WFS is where sellers “…can leverage our world-class supply chain capabilities – from storing, picking, packing and shipping items to handling of returns and customer service.”
Further, it said, “We built this service with sellers, for sellers, and are proud to offer our partners transparent and simple pricing that’s one of the lowest on the market. WFS is designed to help sellers generate more profitable sales of their inventory at scale, while growing their business with Walmart Marketplace.”
WFS covers all U.S. addresses and offers 2-Day standard shipping to all customers in the contiguous United States.
For now, the program also has some product requirements:
- Products must ship to Walmart fulfillment centers from within the United States
- No perishable or regulated products
- Maximum product weight is 30 lb
- Maximum product dimensions: 25″ x 20″ x 14″
Hopefully, some of the product restrictions will ease as WFS grows.
Not Amazon FBA – But a Good Start
WFS is not ready yet to compete head-to-head with Amazon FBA, but it is a good start for Walmart. The company knows it still needs work.
If it succeeds, it could become a powerful tool for Walmart to entice sellers to join its marketplace platform.
“We’re feeling good about the start. We built the technology. We’ve got a handful of sellers using it. They like it. We’re seeing good results. But it’s something that we’re going to, you know, take slowly to make sure it’s right before we really, you know, blow it out”
Marc Lore, CEO of ecommerce U.S.
Fulfillment the Next Battleground?
The cost and complexity of fast fulfillment in the U.S. has helped Amazon build such a massive lead with its third-party marketplace business.
Walmart knows what makes Amazon successful and it is working to become a viable alternative for marketplace sellers. By adding fulfillment services, it has taken a giant leap in that direction.
Shopify, not really a marketplace, but an ecommerce platform for brands and independent retailers, also realizes fulfillment is important for its growth. The company is going through a “measured” approach to expanding its fulfillment service that appears similar to Walmart.
eBay announced a fulfillment program last year, but it has now given up on the project, leaving its sellers to wonder if they need to look at other options. Until other issues are resolved, including finding a new permanent CEO, eBay seems in a holding pattern.
The critical advantage Walmart has over virtually all other ecommerce platforms (except for Amazon) is that they already have a large and efficient logistics and supply network that handles its ecommerce operations and movement of goods.
The retailer needs marketplace sellers to compete with Amazon and continue to grow its ecommerce business. WFS could be the feature to tempt sellers to give Walmart a chance.
Do you think once Walmart makes the WFS fulfillment network widely available, it can entice more marketplace sellers to join the platform?
Please use the comments section below or head over to our Facebook Group for Small Business Sellers and interact with other small business owners.