Walmart Advertising 101: The Guide for eCommerce Brands

It's only been a handful of years since Walmart threw its hat into the eCommerce arena and opened itself up to third-party sellers. In that time it's made incredible process and provided a powerful option for fast-growing brands. Today we're exploring how your business can get the most out of Walmart Marketplace particularly Walmart advertising.

What is Walmart marketplace?

Walmart Marketplace lets eCommerce brands sell their products on the Walmart website as a third party. It's similar to selling on Amazon and eBay in that regard. However Walmart is strict about who it allows to sell under its digital roof. Expect more extensive checks and requirements compared to other eCommerce marketplaces.

Is it important to advertise on Walmart?

Amazon is still the eCommerce king in the US where it enjoyed a 41% market share in 2021. Compare that to Walmart's 6.6% and you might wonder if it's worth getting involved. But Walmart is still the second biggest eCommerce platform in the land even if it's a distant second. It hit $43 billion in online sales during 2021 nothing to sneeze at.

With millions of monthly visitors Walmart is steadily gaining on Amazon. Even if it wasn't the modern consumer journey contains more touchpoints than ever. eCommerce brands need to widen their presence and take an omnichannel approach to succeed.

You'll also be benefiting from the Walmart brand one of the biggest and most respected on Earth. An estimated 90% of Americans shop in physical Walmart stores every year. Basking in some of that goodwill could make it a good idea to include Walmart Marketplace including Walmart advertising in your marketing strategy.

What types of ads can you run on Walmart Marketplace?

Walmart Market lets you run five types of ads:

  • Search grid ads
  • Carousel ads
  • Brand amplifier
  • Buy box
  • On-site and off-site display ads

Search grid ads

Walmart Marketplace lets you pay to boost product listings and skip them ahead of some organic search results. They'll show up with a little 'sponsored product' marker but otherwise appear the same as other items. You can set your budget and maximum bids for this prime digital real estate exactly the same as with other CPC services.

To qualify for search grid advertising Walmart Marketplace requires that a product is:

  • In stock
  • Eligible to win the buy box
  • Within the top three pages (128 products) of organic search
  • Relevant to the search query
  • The same product type as one or more top 20 organic results

Some of those requirements overlap; if your listing is relevant and optimised it's likely to already appear within those top 128 products. Because ad performance affects organic search on Walmart these ads are a good way to build up a new product's presence.

Carousel ads

Carousels let customers compare products side-by-side as they browse. By sponsoring a listing to appear in a carousel alongside organic results you're giving yourself a chance to steal a conversion from the competition. A listing doesn't even have to be within the top 128 organic results to qualify for this type of ad.

It's also a versatile option - Walmart puts carousels in multiple places on site like:

  • The homepage (via featured products)
  • Search results
  • Category and browse pages
  • Curated shelves and personalized shopper pages
  • Individual product listings

Brand amplifier

If your brand sells a number of related products it might make sense to invest some budget into getting it more widely recognized. Walmart Marketplace lets you target certain keywords which when searched give you the opportunity to show your logo strapline and up to three SKUs in a dedicated on-page banner.

This could also form part of your omnichannel strategy if you're selling products in brick-and-mortar Walmart stores as well as online. Remember that massive audience who browse online before visiting physical stores? A brand amplifier spot helps them recognise your products when they come to shop.

Buy box

Only available on automatic campaigns the buy box appears on product listings as either an alternative or a complement to whatever the customer is looking at. By sponsoring a listing to appear here you're showing up right at the end of a user's journey when they're almost at the critical point of conversion.

From there you could steal a sale from the competition. If the customer has any doubts about the product they're browsing you're first in line to provide an alternative. Even if not you might piggyback on the sale by introducing a related product which they'll also need.

Display advertising

You can also extend your brand's presence beyond Walmart Marketplace's search results via display advertising. Similar to Google display ads you can reach new customers in two ways. On-site display ads let you use engaging ad creative to present your products on the Walmart site or the brand's apps. Here you'll benefit from the huge amount of user data Walmart collects to target your ads effectively.

Then there's off-site display ads where you can use retargeting to remind customers of products that they viewed but didn't decide to purchase. These ads show up on social media and third-party sites to lead the audience back to Walmart so they can purchase.

How to start advertising on Walmart Marketplace

Walmart maintains high standards for those who sell and advertise on their platforms. To begin using Walmart advertising for your products you'll need to:

  1. Apply to become a seller on Walmart Marketplace
  2. Complete your seller profile and item listings
  3. Test your store
  4. Apply for access to advertising services
  5. Attend an advertising seminar
  6. Create and launch your ad campaigns

Becoming a Walmart Marketplace seller

It takes about 10-15 minutes to apply to become a Walmart Marketplace seller. The platform will ask for some details about your business stuff like online sales figures and your eCommerce track record.

Once your application gets approved you'll sign a retailer agreement with Walmart fill out your seller profile and link up your payment account. With all your business' details entered you can start uploading product descriptions in one of two ways:

  • Setup by match automatically creates product listings for you based on existing listings for identical products
  • Full item spec lets you use a preset template to write your own listings

After that you're required to carry out order testing before you can sell to customers. At this point your store on Walmart is fully operational and it's time to start advertising.

Applying to advertise on Walmart Marketplace

Walmart Connect (formerly the Walmart Media Group) individually approves every single brand that advertises via its services. When applying for access to paid ad services you'll be asked:

  • Your company name and product information
  • What type of products your business sells
  • How many SKUs you intend to sell via Walmart
  • Your campaign objectives and audience
  • The plan and predicted budget for your ad campaigns

Walmart doesn't reveal the criteria it uses to approve prospective advertisers but we do know that it requires a spend of at least $1000 per month. If your brand is approved you'll also need to attend a webinar before you can start running ads.

Creating and launching ads on Walmart Marketplace

Once you're approved it's easy to start setting up ads:

  1. Log into Walmart Ad Center
  2. Go to the 'campaigns' tab and select 'create new campaign'
  3. Pick automatic or manual targeting
  4. Set the budget for your campaign and any bid multipliers
  5. Manual campaigns select placement type and target keywords
  6. Make an ad group and assign products to it

How much does it cost to advertise on Walmart Marketplace?

Having gone to the trouble of getting approved you'll want to make sure you achieve a good return on ad spend (ROAS). It's good news there; Walmart won't charge you a penny in setup or recurring fees. It only charges a referral fee on the products you sell.

The size of that fee varies from sector to sector. For example beauty products pay around 15% while video game consoles pay roughly 8%. You can find a full list of referral fees by sector on the Walmart website.

Staying on the right side of Walmart Marketplace

Walmart is protective of its brand so it's vital that you play by the rules on its Marketplace and familiarize yourself with any extra compliance requirements. Certain tools like our Digital Shelf solution can help you with that.

As a golden rule customer experience is always Walmart's priority. The more you know about the platform and the people shopping on it the better an experience you can provide. That's going to help you stay in Walmart's good books.

Start collecting customer data either independently or using the right tools and use that knowledge to satisfy both consumers and the platform itself.

Walmart vs Amazon: What's the difference?

Amazon remains at the top of the eCommerce food chain in the US so it makes sense to see how Walmart Marketplace compares. The biggest difference is in size and competition. Amazon brings in over 200 million visitors each month with nearly half a million active seller. Walmart's platform attracts around 110 million monthly visitors across about 50000 active sellers.

That means there's a way bigger audience on Amazon but also far stiffer competition. Another key difference is the platform used to run everything. Walmart uses Walmart Connect which was known as Walmart Media Group until 2021. If you're used to Amazon's Seller Hub it's worth taking time to learn the ins and outs of the new platform to help optimize your presence.

Final thoughts

It might be some way behind Amazon in terms of popularity but Walmart still brings in more than enough traffic to be a profitable eCommerce option. With the right strategy it could be the next big step for your business.

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