Greg Seminara, Export Solutions

A 180 billion dollar Goliath
Walmart’s 2015 international sales totaled 180 billion dollars, representing 29% of total revenues. On a stand alone basis, Walmart international is the world’s second largest retailer, outsold only by Walmart’s USA division. The international division employs over 900,000 associates and serves more than 75 million consumers per week overseas. Compound annual growth rate exceeds 15 % percent since 2000. This signals a dramatic growth trajectory that started in 1991 when a Walmart/CIFRA joint venture opened a Sam’s Club in Mexico City.

6,000 stores in 14 countries across 55 banners
Walmart international reflects a diverse portfolio of countries from Canada to China to Chile. Retail banners include the familiar Walmart and Sam’s Club as well as ASDA ( nicknamed AS-Mart) in the UK and Bodega Aurrera in Mexico. Formats include supermarkets, membership clubs, discount stores, supercenters (hypermarkets), convenience stores, hard discount stores (Brazil) and even department stores and fast casual restaurants in Mexico. Success stories include Mexico, Canada, & Puerto Rico, three markets adjacent to the USA. The UK is Walmart’s largest international market where they have fared reasonably well in this competitive battlefield. Wal*Mart exited Germany, Indonesia, South Korea, and Hong Kong after failing to achieve desired critical mass. Reports from Asia are mixed with reports that the Japanese unit (Seiyu) is struggling, but that China is thriving and projected as Walmart’s #2 market in the future after the USA. India holds promise through a joint venture with Bharti to open wholesale membership clubs.

Local Procurement for Most Brands
Estimates suggest that 90% of all international “branded” procurement decisions are made in country by the local Walmart buyers. This reflects the requirement to be sensitive to local eating customs and product usage patterns. This facilitates relationships with easily accessible suppliers and “just in time” inventory availability. Walmart deploys a form of EDLP ( Every Day Low Price) in most countries. Suppliers need to recognize that “International EDLP” still may involve periodic financial investment with Walmart beyond a “dead net” price. Walmart international units are open to importation of global brands. This provides them with a meaningful point of difference versus their competition and allows them to attract upscale consumers able to afford global brands.

Role of Global Sourcing
Walmart’s Global Sourcing division based in Bentonville concentrates on interaction with the top fifty global suppliers. The aim is to facilitate the exchange of best practices, and tactical procurement of private label and “non-food” items. This office can assist in connecting you with local buyers who are ultimately responsible for purchasing and merchandising your brands. Retail Link, Walmart’s proprietary POS system, is available in most countries. This allows international buyers to view the sales trends of your brands in your home market. Global Sourcing can also serve as valuable allies if local buyers are behaving in a manner inconsistent with Walmart’s overall strategies. Global Sourcing will play an increasing role as Walmart strives for a balance between process uniformity and local execution.

Getting Started
Overlay your brands international category development with Walmart international locations. Identify countries with the best prospects. Normally, starting close to home is a good first step. For USA manufacturers, this means Canada, Puerto Rico, and then Mexico. Chile is a great market which is highly receptive to international brands. China & Japan represent the future, but initial volume requirements and complexity make these markets accessible only to the most experienced international manufacturers.

Organizational Models
Normally, the best solution is to appoint a local distributor to represent your company. This will allow you to sell to Walmart as well as other market retailers. It may be possible to make an initial direct shipment to Walmart international, but this can set a challenging price precedent. At some point, you will need a local organization and it may be difficult to rationalize a price increase to Walmart to cover this added cost. Export Solutions database contains over distributors including companies servicing all Walmart international markets .For more information on selling to Walmart international, contact us at