What You Need to Know About Walmart’s New Seller Performance Standards

September 7, 2017

Marketplaces John Walenty By John Walenty

Walmart held a webinar last month to educate sellers on upcoming changes to its performance standards which launched on September 1. The webinar had three main focus points: customer services best practices, shipping program best practices and new seller standards.

The customer services best practice portion of the webinar discussed industry standards that experienced online retailers should already have in place, but here is a quick summary:

  • Customers should always be the center of all your business decisions. They are the pillar of Walmart.
  • Walmart Marketplace sellers are required to service customers by phone and email. Ensure your business credentials are accurate in Seller Center; a residential phone or an international phone number is not acceptable.
  • If you resolve customer service issues by phone, send a follow-up email summarizing the issue and resolution to the secure email address on the order in Seller Center.

Sellers will need to make sure they are paying attention to a few changes to the shipping program:  

  • Sellers are required to provide valid tracking numbers for at least 95% of their shipments, excluding freight shipments. These are the current accepted shipping carriers on Walmart: FedEx, UPS, USPS, UPS-MI, FedEx SmartPost or OnTrac. The only exceptions to this would be freight shipments — but those items need to be marked with a freight flag, which can be applied on the ChannelAdvisor platform by mapping the Freight fields on the Item Level Shipping Overrides portion of the template.
  • Sellers will be required to improve speed and accuracy of delivery by adhering to the following updates to each one of these metrics.
    • Processing and Cutoff Time
      • Current requirement — Any cutoff hour (PST) on any set of any enabled shipping days.
      • New requirement — 2 p.m. (in the seller’s time zone) cutoff on all workdays. This will not include weekends.
    • Fulfillment Lag Time
      • Current requirement — Any number of lag days (to ship) on any item.
      • New requirement — Shipping confirmation must be in Walmart by the end of the next business day. This means that lag time must be 0 or 1 days. Anything longer than this (not including freight items) will need to be approved by Walmart on a case-by-case basis.
    • Transit Time by Method and Region
      • Current requirement — Standardized transit times in each method in all 48 states.  
      • New requirement — Walmart will be announcing this in September or October.
  • Sellers will also need to pay attention to new processing time requirements and the timeline in which they are rolled out.
    • Mid-September — Processing schedules and cutoff times are reset.
    • End of September — New exception lag time feed is available. Lag time in the the inventory feed becomes optional. Currently, if you do not have anything mapped in ChannelAdvisor for days to ship, we apply a default of 2, but lag times of two days or more are still accepted. At this time, if you need more than 2 days to ship something, you need to reach out to Walmart to get approval for that.
    • End of October — Walmart will no longer accept lag times of two days or more unless you have been approved to do so by the Walmart team.
  • Changes to the seller center UI are coming.
    • You will no longer be able to choose your processing time cutoff; it will be locked to 2 p.m.  The only option here will be to choose your time zone from one of the following; EST, CST, MST or PST.
    • The update inventory option in the UI will only allow you to use the values 0 or 1 when it comes to updating lag time.  If you have been approved by Walmart to use other times, you will need to update that via the inventory feed.

The last topic covered was the new metrics which sellers will be held to going forward.  Changes to the current performance metrics are below:

  • Current Service Level Agreement
    • Cancellation rate will be changing from the current rate of less than 2.5% and will be rolled into what Walmart is calling the Order Defect Rate.
    • On-time shipment rate will stay the same; sellers must be greater than 99% in this metric.
    • Refund rate will also roll into the new Order Defect Rate.
  • New Service Level Agreement
    • Order Defect Rate must stay below 2% over a rolling 90-day period.
    • On-Time Shipment Rate as noted above will stay at 99% or greater.
    • Valid tracking will need to be at 95% or better.

Order Defect Rate (ODR) will include these five factors: cancellation rate, return defects, delivery defects and customer complaints. Walmart states that “Any infraction on these five metrics is considered an order defect. Any order may have multiple infractions, but it will only count as one order defect for the purposes of counting your overall ODR.” Walmart will take the sum of these defects and divide them by the total number of orders you process to come up with the ODR; this will be a rolling 90-day metric. The new seller scorecard in the Walmart Marketplace’s user interface (UI) will reflect these metrics and will allow sellers to see the exact orders that cause any seller metric issues.  

The list below contains some key notes on the new seller metrics that sellers should be paying attention to:

  • ODR and performance metrics will be updated on a bi-weekly basis within the Seller Center.
  • Walmart’s partner performance team will be reviewing these metrics regularly and sellers will receive notice when their metrics are off target.
  • Accounts that fall significantly below the performance thresholds will be temporarily suspended; suspension time-period will vary based on the performance on the platform. Sellers will need to follow a new appeal process if their account falls into suspension.
    • Sellers will need to work with Walmart directly to identify the key performance metrics that led to their suspension and come up with a plan of action to get their account back on track. This plan must be reviewed and then approved by Walmart, and will need to be executed over the following 15 days, at which point the seller may be reinstated.

To summarize, Walmart is tightening their seller metrics but the new metrics are no more than what most other marketplaces already expect. Sellers that sell across multiple marketplaces should have no issue adapting to these new metrics and they should ultimately lead to a better buying experience for customers who shop on the Walmart platform.   

Follow these  links to the Walmart Knowledge Base to learn more about the topics covered in this blog: