By Brendan Case, Bloomberg News (via TNS).
Walmart Inc., which became the world’s largest retailer by serving everyday shoppers, is now targeting a larger share of business customers with a website aimed at small and midsize companies.
The initiative, called Walmart Business, is designed to offer a one-stop shop for office supplies, furniture, food and electronics, Ashley Hubka, the senior vice president managing the program, said in an interview. Walmart is also pitching a business membership plan that dangles extra savings.
The website is tailored to the needs of companies and nonprofits, and will provide more convenience for busy purchasing managers, Walmart said in a statement Friday. That will position the company to attract new corporate shoppers and, in the case of existing customers, “earn a greater share of their wallet,” Hubka said.
Walmart is betting that the venture will help it encroach on rivals such as Staples Inc., Costco Wholesale Corp. and Amazon.com Inc., which stepped up efforts to woo smaller companies during the coronavirus pandemic. Wall Street analysts predict Walmart will be a slow-growing behemoth over the long term, and finding new sources of demand is a key challenge.
The retailer started the business website — business.walmart.com — in September with little fanfare, Hubka said. Now, having honed the product assortment based on user feedback, it’s looking to ramp up growth.
The website includes an assortment of more than 100,000 items for purchasers looking to buy equipment, restock supplies and feed employees. As many as five users can share a single account.
The Bentonville, Arkansas-based company is also offering Walmart Business+, a corporate counterpart to its Walmart+ membership program for individual consumers. The business version offers free shipping, plus 2% rewards on orders of at least $250 and savings of as much as 5% on certain items in subscription orders. Both membership programs cost $98 a year.
Another membership-based company vying for business customers is Sam’s Club, Walmart’s own warehouse-store operation. Hubka said there’s enough demand for Walmart itself to win more new business-to-business sales without cannibalizing revenue at its corporate cousin.
“This will be additive to Walmart as a whole,” she said. “We believe there’s a really large market.”
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