The U.S. e-commerce business keeps on growing. Online and mobile shopping has increased significantly as a result of COVID-19. Millions of Americans are ordering from online platforms, where variety, fast shipping, and comparison tools such as reviews and prices, offer convenience and ease.
This month, Walmart has released its Q2 earnings and reported its U.S. e-commerce sales were up 97%. The growth outpaced the overall Walmart business.
The Walmart Marketplace
Walmart Marketplace, announced in 2009, has one of the biggest e-commerce channels. Third-party sellers sell online on the marketplace and can fulfill orders themselves or use Walmart Fulfillment Services (WFS), if eligible. There is no monthly fee to use the marketplace, and most items can be returned in a physical Walmart store.
Walmart keeps on improving its online shopping experience and has recently unified the Walmart apps for more convenience. It also keeps on expanding its online offerings. For example, in May 2020, Walmart announced it entered the fashion resale market through an online partnership with thredUP, a leading fashion resale platform. In June 2020, it partnered with Shopify.
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Walmart expansion with Shopify
“…We are joining forces with Shopify, an all-in-one commerce platform used by more than 1 million businesses, to open the Walmart Marketplace to their sellers,” said Walmart’s Vice President Jeff Clementz in the company’s announcement regarding the new integration of Walmart Marketplace and Shopify. He said Walmart will focus on U.S.-based small and medium businesses out of Shopify’s third-party sellers.
Shopify sellers can check if they are eligible to join Walmart Marketplace by installing the app from Shopify’s app store. Once approved, the sellers can connect their store to their new Walmart Seller Account and add an unlimited number of items to Walmart Marketplace. According to Walmart, they will able to conduct everything from Shopify, and product changes made within Shopify will automatically appear on Walmart’s e-commerce platform.
Fake products on Walmart.com
Like other marketplaces, there is the risk of buying counterfeit items on Walmart. And like the big marketplaces, Walmart Marketplace has an anti-counterfeiting policy that prohibits third-party sellers from selling fake products.
Walmart.com wants to offer a wide selection, so it offers items from a large number of third-party sellers. In 2019, it hosted more than 35,000 sellers, as reported by Marketplace Pulse. And this creates a problem of more counterfeit products. Marketplace Pulse also reports that in 2017, Marc Lore, President of Walmart e-commerce US, had admitted the problem saying, “we were adding [SKUs] so fast that we hadn’t really kept a very high bar in terms of the quality of the SKUs and the quality of merchants on the site.” And this year Walmart’s marketplace is expected to add a large number of Shopify third-party sellers.
As a top retailer in the U.S., most consumers would trust Walmart to sell authentic goods. But customers shopping on Walmart.com may not be aware of purchasing from third-party sellers who are not always trustworthy. The Counterfeit Report, a self-described consumer advocate and watchdog, has written in 2017 that “as repeatedly found and submitted dozens of complaints to Walmart, authorized by the trademark holders, for counterfeit items found on its website. Yet months later, some items remain, while others are removed, but later relisted.”
A 2018 report by the United States Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that five major online retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, and eBay, sold fake products. The investigators bought 47 products from third-party sellers in different product categories. All items were described as new items sold by third-parties and shipped from U.S. addresses. The companies holding the intellectual property rights found that 20 were counterfeits.
GAO did not specify which product was bought on which marketplace but the report did say that investigators “purchased at least one counterfeit item and one authentic item from each of the five e-commerce websites,” according to the intellectual property rights owners.
Customers claim they unknowingly purchased counterfeit items from third-party vendors on Walmart.com, and some also report that upon contacting Walmart, their understanding was that Walmart does not take it upon itself to help with issues such as counterfeits.
Walmart requires approval for sellers to join, as it does with Shopify’s sellers.
Still, fraudulent sellers are sophisticated. For example, Marketplace Pulse reported in April 2020 that face masks offered for sale at Walmart Marketplace were fraudulent, and customers did not receive their orders.
Due to its size and significance, brands should proactively monitor Walmart’s online marketplace for all forms of online brand abuse.
Report intellectual property infringements on Walmart
If you have good reason to believe that your intellectual property (IP) rights have been infringed on Walmart.com, you can report it through Walmart’s online IP Claim Form. The claims can be submitted by the owner of the IP rights or by his authorized agent, such as an online brand protection company. To file the claim, you declare that the information provided is correct. Walmart can remove the infringing content and delete counterfeits.
And what if a Shopify seller offers counterfeit items or other IP infringing products bought on Walmart Marketplace? It seems like the place to go for a takedown action is Shopify, where the seller is listed. To report intellectual property violations on Shopify, you can go to “Report an issue with a Merchant” and fill out a notice on the platform.
Wiser Marketplace: removing counterfeits from Walmart
The best protection for your brand is to be proactive and stop your IP rights from being abused online.
Wiser Market brand protection agency can help you protect your brand on Walmart and, more generally, online. We scan Walmart, Amazon, eBay, and all other major marketplaces, websites, and social media 24/7 to alert you of trademark violations and other intellectual property rights infringements. When we detect a threat, we analyze it and move on to filing a complaint and following through with takedown actions.
Our highly-effective, long-term online brand protection strategy defends your revenue and reputation, resulting in an over 90% success rate.
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What is Walmart Marketplace?
Walmart Marketplace is an e-commerce platform owned by Walmart.
Is everything on Walmart online sold by Walmart?
Many of the products for sale online on Walmart are not sold directly by Walmart.
Does Walmart have third-party sellers?
Yes, Walmart has a large number of third-party sellers in different product categories.
Can anyone sell on Walmart?
A seller is required to submit an application to sell on the Walmart e-commerce platform. If approved, he can sell on the platform.
Is Walmart open to Shopify?
In 2020 Walmart announced its partnership with Shopify, an e-commerce shopping platform now used by over one million business sellers to sell their products online.