If a product is made in America, or if it supports American jobs – Walmart wants it on our shelves.
That’s the message we delivered Tuesday at our fourth U.S. Manufacturing Summit. Entrepreneurs from more than 40 states crowded into four buildings across our Bentonville, Arkansas campus to participate in 800 pitch meetings with our Sam’s Club, Walmart and Walmart.com buying teams. As always, it was awesome to spend the day with people of all backgrounds united in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism.
Walmart has been on this journey since January 2013 when we announced our commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion of goods that support American jobs. This year was extra special, because we had a big surprise for our Open Callers. It was one beautiful word: “YES!” We said YES to virtually all items presented. If it can ship safely to a customer’s home, then we are, at a minimum, listing it on Walmart.com. Of course, many items will also be available on store shelves – in some cases just 40 stores, or 4,500 depending on customer demand and available supply. Whether you’re a family-owned start-up or a longtime supplier looking to expand production, the chance to sell YOUR product to the 140 million Americans Walmart serves each week is a game-changer.
So what’s in a yes for a new supplier to Walmart? Excitement. Tears of joy. Disbelief. And maybe some nervousness, thinking of the hard work required to meet the demand of a large retail order. I saw all of this and more. But what really stood out were the personal stories of the people that brought their American-made items to sell at Walmart. People I met, like:
- Two innovators who, despite not knowing each other, shared a rental car and drove nearly all night to make their appointment when their late evening flight was cancelled
- The teenage CEO who pitched her own product to buyers
- Two brothers, one a policeman and one a fireman, whose barbecue sauce started as a local competition between the two civic forces
What we are doing matters for America. In fact, Boston Consulting Group estimates more than one million U.S. jobs will be created through our $250 billion commitment. It definitely matters to Walmart — it’s very much in our interest to lessen shipping times, and to support the communities we are part of. But most of all, it matters to our customers. Eighty-five percent say it’s important for retailers to carry products assembled or produced in the U.S. As a merchant responsible for a host of categories including health and wellness, pets, baby and beauty, I know firsthand that if you give customers what they want at a great price, results will follow.
As I reflect on the personal stories and the impact this work is having on American jobs and communities, it’s easy to see why this year was special. There’s no doubt we’ve created additional momentum just by saying YES. And there’s no denying that work is a beautiful thing.