Aug. 4, 2020
By Laura Phillips, SVP Global Sourcing & U.S. Manufacturing
It’s a been a year of challenges, but in many ways Walmart’s amazing supplier community has helped get America through the first half of the year. In fact, one of the bright spots was watching our suppliers rise to the challenges COVID-19 threw at our nation.
Each year, our Open Call for U.S. manufactured products gives entrepreneurs and small businesses an opportunity to join our community of suppliers who help meet the everyday needs of Walmart customers. It would have been an easy decision to cancel the event with everything going on, but we didn’t feel that was the right move for our customers, our communities or the small businesses looking forward to this annual event.
Our merchants were determined to meet the challenge to give prospective suppliers opportunities in this tough retail climate. So, we’re holding our first-ever virtual Open Call on October 1, and it’s shaping up to be an amazing day.
In years past, the Home Office in Bentonville, Arkansas, hosted hundreds of Open Call participants over a couple of days. The lobby and the hallways were jammed with those hoping to make the most of the unique opportunity. This year’s event will be different, but we’re planning an equally exciting program and think making Open Call virtual might give many entrepreneurs who wouldn’t normally make the journey a new opportunity to attend and learn in new ways. In fact, we are thrilled and encouraged to see broader geographic representation among applicants than in previous years, including applicants from 49 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
We’ll kick off the day with comments from Walmart’s President and CEO Doug McMillon, Chief Merchandising Officer Scott McCall, other Walmart executives and special guests. We also have a full line-up of informative sessions designed to help suppliers succeed in their businesses, like pivoting to address the challenges of COVID-19 and doing business with Walmart.com, Walmart Marketplace or our private brands.
In addition, we’re opening some sessions to the general public, including current suppliers and other businesses. Sessions about how to access capital to grow your business, manage risk and creating great online content planning will stream live, allowing anyone to watch, regardless of where they are.
We want businesses everywhere to be stronger and better prepared to manage the challenges they may face throughout the course of their business. It’s a day you don’t want to miss!
And just like all the previous Open Call events, our buyers will be meeting with potential suppliers throughout the day – making deals to bring new and innovative products to our customers. A big difference this year, however, is the addition of Walmart Marketplace in a bigger and better way.
As more customers choose to shop online, Walmart has strengthened its position through Walmart.com and Marketplace, with the latter outpacing the company’s overall U.S. eCommerce business. Growing our Marketplace is a strategic priority, and that’s another reason why this year’s Open Call presents such a powerful and unparalleled opportunity to entrepreneurs and small businesses.
Open Call is a unique opportunity for entrepreneurs from all over the country to pitch their U.S. manufactured products and to reach customers through Walmart stores, Sam’s Clubs and online. We learn about innovative new products, and it helps us fulfill our commitment to help boost job creation and U.S. manufacturing through buying an additional $250 billion in products supporting American jobs by 2023.
There’s already a lot of interest. So far, we are tracking ahead of last year’s submissions with more than 3,000 businesses applying for the opportunity to pitch their products to Walmart buyers and more than 10,000 buyer meetings requested. And we look forward to receiving more!
The application period isn’t over yet. There’s still one more week for prospective suppliers to apply.
Entrepreneurs have until August 10 to sign up, so I encourage you to sign up today, check out our virtual event program and join the conversation on social media with #WalmartOpenCall. It’s one of the most exciting days of the year at Walmart. I hope to “see” you all there!