More than 800 small businesses from across the country pitched their U.S.-manufactured products during 30-minute, one-on-one meetings with Walmart and Sam’s Club merchants as part of the company’s first-ever virtual Open Call event. Approximately 56% of these businesses self-report as diverse, and more than 175 received a “yes,” advancing them to the next stage in the process to land on store and club shelves.
In addition to Walmart stores and Sam’s Clubs, the scope of opportunity available to participants includes Walmart.com, Walmart Marketplace and Samsclub.com. All participating businesses producing shelf-stable products were invited to sell their products on Walmart’s various online platforms.
“No other retailer provides small businesses with as many channels and avenues to success, and we’re thrilled with their response to Walmart’s first-ever virtual Open Call event,” said Laura Phillips, Walmart svp/global sourcing and U.S. manufacturing. “It’s truly inspiring to see the strong entrepreneurial spirit of this year’s participants. Despite the challenges small businesses have faced this year, they’ve brought incredible energy, innovation and ingenuity to their product pitch meetings, and we are excited about what this means for our customers, our communities and our commitment to source an additional $250 billion in U.S. manufactured products that support American jobs.”
Nearly 2,100 people joined the general session live event, which subsequently received more than 34,000 views throughout the day, to hear from Walmart executives. This included company president and CEO Doug McMillon, who described the various ways Walmart is helping smaller suppliers and the thousands of small businesses that lease space inside Walmart Supercenters and Sam’s Clubs address impacts of the global pandemic.
Celebrities adding to the excitement of the day included chef Robert Irvine who shared advice for how businesses can pivot during times of crisis, five-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin who encouraged participants to “be confident, believe in yourself and believe in your product,” and Snoop Dogg whose gin label Indoggo will be available in Walmart stores next spring.
More than 4,800 small businesses representing 49 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Canada, Australia and Mozambique applied for the chance to pitch a Walmart merchant, a 44% increase in submissions from last year. The virtual nature of this year’s event also made it possible for the company to increase the number of meetings. Nearly 900 meetings were held, also 44% more than last year.