Walmart, the second-largest online seller in the US having overtaken eBay last year could soon be launching Walmart Marketplace in the UK, says the home delivery expert ParcelHero. This would finally give UK shoppers a significant alternative to Amazon when shopping online for a wide range of new products, including tech, fashion and home.
The retailer is staging a global sellers summit in London on 17 June, billed as “an opportunity for UK based ecommerce sellers to explore how to grow their business as part of Walmart Marketplace”. Walmart’s initial event is aimed at introducing British businesses to its US marketplace of 120 million customers every month.
However, Walmart is the world’s largest omnichannel store, and may well have unfulfilled ambitions in the UK. Grace Xu, Walmart’s of UK Business Development will be speaking at the event.
ParcelHero’s Head of Consumer Research, David Jinks M.I.L.T, believes this means Walmart is to open its marketplace in the UK. “It may only be a year since Walmart pulled out of Britain, selling its Asda chain to the UK’s Issa brothers, but the good news for shoppers is that the US giant is actively pursuing British sellers to join its Walmart Marketplace,” he says.
Jinks continues: “Access to Walmart.com would be a big win for UK shoppers with an eye for a bargain. From half-priced televisions and laptops to barbeques, Walmart items appear alongside millions of products from independent sellers using the integrated marketplace. UK retailers would be able to take advantage of the benefits US sellers enjoy, such as no set-up charge or monthly fees.”
A move into the UK would make sense in many ways. Amazon’s UK turnover was £4.8 billion (over $6.55 billion) in 2020 and 86% of Brits shop on Amazon. Which retailer wouldn’t want a slice of this action, says Jinks.
In the US, Walmart’s network of 5,000 stores gives its online operations a major boost as they fulfil grocery orders and act as pick-up and returns centres. In the UK, the fact that Walmart has lost all its stores seems like a major hurdle. However, even though it has just a handful of grocery stores around London, Amazon has extended its reach by partnering with companies like Morrisons for local fresh food and installing a network of pick-up lockers nationwide.
Significantly, when it sold Asda, Walmart retained an equity investment in the business, with an ongoing commercial relationship and a seat on the board. That could mean it would be a relatively smooth ride to tie in with Asda’s 633 locations across the UK.
“Walmart does lack access to Amazon Logistics, the huge delivery network Amazon has built up,” says Jinks. “However, since the end of Covid lockdowns, many UK delivery networks have spare capacity. Two-day deliveries shouldn’t be a significant problem if Walmart partners up with one or more operators.”
With topics such as global sales and expansion on the agenda at Walmart’s Global Seller Summit, UK shoppers may well be hoping to see the arrival of a genuine Amazon rival for new online bargains.