Last week, we attended Supplier Community’s Optimizing eCommerce 2019 in Bentonville, Arkansas, Walmart’s hometown.
Originally founded as a resource center for Walmart suppliers, Supplier Community hosts monthly training and events for Walmart and Amazon retailers, suppliers, and service providers.
Here are some of our key takeaway from this one-day education and networking event.
1. Explore a New Platform
There are many ways a seller can grow their business: expansion into new categories, new products, new platforms, and new countries.
Amazon sellers often think of expanding their existing product lines and brands into other countries to increase their sales. But, you don’t have to leave the US to find a new customer base.
A new platform like Walmart.com can potentially be as profitable as selling in a new Amazon marketplace. In many cases, you can take advantage of resources, like warehouses and supply chains, that you already have in place. This means that your fixed costs remain the same while your opportunities to profit increase.
Plus, you’ll have already gone through one of the most intensive parts of building an e-commerce brand: creating a listing. Though Amazon and Walmart have different algorithms, many elements of the product detail pages on both sites are the same. For example, both include images, a title, bullet points, and a description. You’ll have already done a lot of the legwork needed to expand to Walmart just by selling on Amazon.
While Walmart is similar to Amazon, there are some key differences. Amazon’s retail platform is open to all sellers, while Walmart sellers must apply and be approved. As a result, there are larger, more established sellers and consumer packaged goods companies populating Walmart’s marketplace.
If you think you’re ready to sell on Walmart, you can start the application process on their website.
And, if you aspire to sell on Walmart, but aren’t ready to get started, attending a Walmart conference is a great way to get your toes wet.
2. Networking Opportunities
One of the best things about attending Supplier Community’s signature event was the number of new faces! This conference was a fantastic opportunity to meet new retailers and vendors.
We were able to make valuable business connections while attending the conference. With a whole new group of vendors, it was an excellent opportunity for us to absorb further information and build relationships. Like many of you, we’re always interested in the latest Walmart news.
A number of the attendees at this event represented large brands or companies moving incredibly large amounts of product. By discussing strategies with them, you can learn more about scaling your business and managing inventory. Even if you aren’t ready to expand to a different platform, connections are still worth making. The lessons and knowledge you acquire can help you now, while the relationships you form can help you in the future. If you do decide to make the jump to a new platform like Walmart, you’ll have built an experienced network to support you along the way.
3. See a New Part of the United States
If you’ve been doing the Amazon conference circuit, you’ve likely been to Las Vegas a couple of times. And probably made a stop in New York, Chicago, or San Francisco. While many conferences tend to be located in large cities, Supplier Community's events stay close to their roots near Walmart's HQ in Bentonville, Arkansas – home to Sam Walton’s very first Five & Dime in the downtown square (and the current location of the Walmart Museum).
Arkansas is a state of small towns, which influenced how Walmart grew and how it developed its business practices. Walmart still adheres to Sam’s 10 rules for building a business. These simple and straightforward rules can be applied to any company, regardless of the industry or size. Our personal favorite is #10:
10. Swim upstream.
Go the other way. Ignore the conventional wisdom. If everybody else is doing it one way, there's a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.
You can learn much about how these rules developed by exploring Bentonville and nearby Rogers. Both towns boast thriving downtown areas filled with small businesses and southern charm. These growing areas have developed a community characterized by building each other up and an in-depth knowledge of their customer base. Visiting Arkansas allows you to observe how rural states and small communities operate, giving you further insight into your own customer’s wants and needs.
A couple of non-e-commerce things we learned this past week:
Fried green tomatoes are delicious.
Do not pronounce Arkansas (ar-can-saw) as AR-Kansas (ar-can-sas).
A walk-in fridge is an appropriate tornado shelter.
We hope to see you at the next Supplier Community event!