Your first meeting with Walmart Inc. is a landmark moment for your brand. Make a strong impression and it could be a giant leap toward placing your products on Walmart or Sam’s Club shelves. On the other hand, if you can’t make a compelling case for your brand, it could be a blown opportunity that alters the course of your company’s growth trajectory.
Preparation is key. When you go to Walmart headquarters to make your pitch for your brand, you need to know exactly what you’re walking into. And when it comes to Walmart, you’re likely to find a different meeting environment than the one you’re used to.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know to prepare a winning pitch to Walmart Inc.
1. Do your homework ahead of time.
If you’re only focused on your products and why they deserve a spot on the shelves, Walmart buyers aren’t going to be impressed. It’s important to know your business and how it can drive sales for a retailer, but you need to consider your audience and connect your product to its own retail goals.
Visit Walmart stores ahead of time to see what’s on the shelves. How do your products fit in among existing stock? How can you improve the overall performance of the category? How can you grow Walmart’s performance in your products’ category? Is your product incremental to the category and filling specific white space? You’re not just selling buyers on your products—you’re showing them how you offer value as a retail supplier. Be ready to get specific and speak to Walmart’s needs.
2. Expect an unglamorous HQ experience.
You might be used to visiting retail headquarters that are modern, sleek, spacious, and beautiful. Walmart headquarters doesn’t fit that description. The company’s headquarters are the definition of every day low cost, with plain walls, small rooms, and basic construction and design.
You’ll probably have to sit tight and wait until buyers are ready to meet with you, and don’t be surprised if you end up standing in a hallway with other people who are also waiting for their turn.
At Walmart, it’s strictly business and little fanfare as they truly embrace the EDLC model in every aspect of business. Use the stripped-down environment to get in the right mindset for your meeting.
3. Brace for a tight meeting room.
You won’t be brought to a sprawling conference room when you’re meeting at Walmart or Sam’s Club Home Office. What’s more likely is you’ll enter a tiny room that can barely fit four to six people. This is where meetings with prospective suppliers typically take place, and if you’re not prepared for that environment, it can throw you off your rhythm. Expect to feel cramped, and be prepared to stay seated as you give your presentation.
4. Print off physical copies of your presentation.
Walmart buyers appreciate having a paper version of your presentation on hand to review. Whether they choose to thumb through it as you’re making your presentation, or they want to keep it with them to review at a later date, print off enough copies so that everyone in the meeting can leave with one.
5. Bring samples of your product.
Walmart will want to see your products and possibly see demos of how they work. One important tip: Make sure you bring the products in their packaging. When it comes to stocking their shelves, Walmart buyers want to know exactly how they will look, including color schemes, logos, messaging, and other design elements. Be prepared to show final product as it will be delivered to Walmart; Making changes after the fact is a no-no and looked down upon from buyers.
6. Never, ever bring a parting gift.
We’ve mentioned this before, but it bears repeating: Whatever you do, don’t bring a gift for Walmart buyers. They’re not allowed to take anything from retail suppliers, and they might interpret any offer as a sign that you don’t fully understand their company and its unique culture.
You can’t treat Walmart like other retail companies—if you want to make a strong impression, stick to making a strong business case and showcasing your products.
Walmart buyers are looking for value. When you meet with them for the first time, demonstrating value should be your top goal. As you enter Walmart headquarters and witness the company’s culture and work environment firsthand, you’ll realize that the company is all about performance and results. Keep those points of emphasis in mind when preparing for your first meeting.