Earlier this year Walmart announced how they were looking to onboard more sellers to the Walmart marketplace from the UK. Whilst Walmart is a huge platform and marketplace in the US, it is a relatively unknown market to the UK.
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For that reason, we wanted to reach out to a UK seller who had already been through the process of onboarding to the Walmart marketplace and hear firsthand from them what that experience was like and if they noticed an increase in sales because of it.
With that said I am excited to bring you an interview with Ravi Karia, Managing Director of Universal Textiles UK Ltd and a Walmart Marketplace seller since 2011. Whilst Ravi’s business is based in Leicester in the UK, he has truly embraced the notion of cross-border trade and sells on marketplaces all over the world.
With that said let’s hear more from Ravi:
Interview with Ravi Karia and the Walmart Marketplace Opportunity
Q1. Ravi, thanks for taking the time to share your insights with us. Can you tell us a little more about Universal Textiles UK/Pertemba? How long have you been selling online and what channels/marketplaces do you sell on?
A. My grandfather started Universal Textiles in Leicester in 1986 as a clothing manufacturer, but by 2005 the business wasn’t going anywhere and the family decided to close it. I was a recent graduate, with a Computer Science Degree, and I took over the company name because it was my grandfather’s legacy.
That’s how Universal Textiles became an online-only business. Working out of my parent’s garage, I decided to focus on selling on marketplaces as this was a low-risk way to get started. Today we have over 120 employees across two continents and we sell under the Pertemba brand on more than 60 online marketplaces worldwide, from Walmart Marketplace in North America to smaller, more niche platforms in Europe.
It’s been challenging to essentially grow our business to be as much a tech company as a textiles company, but it’s been exciting and rewarding, too. Online marketplaces remain the bedrock of our growth, helping us scale, reach more customers and expand worldwide.
Q2. As a UK seller, how has it been getting set up and integrated on the Walmart Marketplace?
A. We were already on Amazon in North America, but we didn’t want to have to rely on one platform too much, so we approached Walmart. At the time, Walmart Canada was just opening its marketplace and we were able to onboard there. We have solid sales in Canada and we’ve had a good experience on the platform, so when the opportunity to go on the US Walmart Marketplace came up, we went for it.
It’s all been fairly smooth; the support is good and the onboarding process was very straightforward. There are some challenges, like strict service-level agreement requirements, and I know the team is working on that. But overall, the Walmart Marketplace has been a great place for us to get more sales.
Q3. Compared to your other channels, what is different about selling on Walmart?
A. First and foremost, Walmart Marketplace gives us exposure to a large and diverse customer base in a cost-effective way. There’s less competition than on Amazon. It’s also easy to list products on Walmart, so we have a huge catalog on there. I find it harder to list on Amazon at the moment, especially with the new apparel requirements.
The level of support available to sellers is also very high, as I mentioned earlier. Walmart’s support reps understand what you’re talking about, and you don’t need to go through 3 or 4 departments to get an answer to your question, which isn’t the case elsewhere.
Q4. Being based in the UK, how does the logistics work for your business in terms of fulfillment in the US?
A. Before we listed anything, our priority was to find a courier that could provide the tracking services you need to comply with the Walmart Marketplace SLAs. Everything has to be tracked. Working with Walmart, we developed a good strategy and found the right partner.
As our volumes have increased, we’re now primarily using Walmart Fulfillment Services. So, we move products into the US and Walmart handles the delivery side. This lets us offer two-day delivery to the contiguous US and it takes the pain out of returns. This has upped our conversion rate, so it’s been well worth it.
Q5. For any eCommerce business owners reading this who were considering expanding into more sales channels what advice would you give to them?
A. First, the instinct to diversify your sales channels is a good one. We sell on marketplaces in Australia, Japan, Sweden, and lots of other places, which helps protect us from pressures or headwinds in any one market or region.
Our approach was to focus first on English-speaking markets, which made it simpler. I would recommend looking at Walmart.com because it’s easy to get started there as a cross-border seller. There’s a genuinely useful support system, and you get access to millions of customers and a cost-effective fulfillment service.
Thank You Ravi
We want to say a huge thank you to Ravi for taking the time out of his busy schedule to answer our questions and hopefully shed some light on the Walmart opportunity that exists for UK sellers.
If reading this has increased your interest in selling on the Walmart Marketplace and making the most of the growing opportunity there, you can start your application by using this link.
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