U.S. Manufacturing

Walmart puts out an Open Call for new U.S. made products

As part of our commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion in U.S. made products over ten years, Walmart is opening our doors and you’re invited.  On July 8 in Bentonville, Arkansas, we are hosting the first ever Open Call for U.S. made products.  

We invite our current suppliers that want to present new products as well as potential suppliers with U.S. manufactured products. They’ll have a chance to meet with buyers and hear from senior leaders at Walmart and Walmart.com. While our buyers are always looking for new products for our customers, this is the first time that we are putting out an open invitation for products Made in the USA!

Space is limited. In addition to being domestically produced, applicants will be evaluated on the ability of their items to meet Walmart customer needs including:

  • Product: design, quality and innovation
  • Price: competitive costing and value
  • Strategic fit within merchandising strategy
  • Ability to execute: production and logistics

Registration is required and is open now through June 6. Once registered, companies will be asked to provide basic product and company information. Based upon that information, companies will be notified by June 17 if an appointment will be scheduled.
Are you interested in learning more about Open Call or possibly attending on July 8? Check out our commitment to U.S. Manufacturing and learn how to become a Walmart supplier.

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Business

With 25 Years in the Can, We’re Toasting Sam’s Cola

Excitement is bubbling in our beverage aisles this summer as we celebrate a major milestone for one of our first private brand items.

Sam’s Cola is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. I’m part of the beverage team who worked to refresh the taste of this iconic item ahead of this anniversary. Along the way, I found some interesting things.

While the ingredients have stayed the same, we do occasionally tweak formulation to ensure we’re delivering what customers want. The formula hadn’t been updated for some time until recently, when third-party testing showed it could use tinkering. It’s all about how our customers see quality.

While today’s customers are used to seeing retailers provide store-brand options, Sam’s Cola was a very new thing in 1991. The soda was one of three private brands launched in our grocery business.

Mark Clark, a member of the original carbonated soft drinks team for Walmart U.S. who now works in dry grocery and global food sourcing, once said, “If it hadn’t have been for the success of Sam’s American Choice [the soda’s name at the time], there’s a good chance we wouldn’t have done Great Value.”  He’s right.

Sam’s Cola paved the way for our private brands that customers love, like Great Value, Sam’s Choice and Marketside. Our private brands play a big role in how we help people save money without sacrificing quality. Plus, coming up with exciting new items within our private brands assortment is one of the reasons why I love working at Walmart.

Our founder, Sam Walton, was hesitant to go into the private label soda business. When the team approached him about launching what was then Sam’s American Choice, he had two requests: First, it had to be as good, if not better, than the national brands. Second, it had to be priced at a great value to the customer. Today, we still deliver a great item worthy of his name.

The idea started brewing when David Glass, then our chief executive officer, noticed a price and quality gap between national brands and other items on the market. He tasked merchants to come up with a unique-tasting soda that would please customers and help them save money.

Dallas Dobbs, who was also part of the original team, said it wasn’t easy breaking into the soda business in those days.

“Our job is to sell what the customers buy. We don’t create demand; we satisfy it,” explained Dallas, who is now a senior buyer.

The flavors were difficult to come up with, Dallas says, but the team ended up developing a high-quality product – and they did it with amazing speed. It took just three and a half months to go from pitching the idea to putting the product on store shelves. And, can you believe Doug McMillon, our current president and CEO, was the very first merchant for Sam’s Cola?

I’m particularly proud that ever since that first can, Sam’s Cola has been made in the United States. Sam was passionate about supporting U.S. manufacturing and approved production of the original cola in Columbus, Georgia. It launched in 2,300-plus stores with three versions: Cola, Diet Cola and Caffeine Free Diet Cola. Today, this customer favorite is sold in more than 4,600 Walmart stores across the U.S.

Look for special packaging featuring the original Walton 5 &10 store and Sam Walton’s pickup on large packs of Sam’s Cola through October and help us celebrate the 25th anniversary of a product that continues to be made with the customer in mind.

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U.S. Manufacturing

One Big YES! for Products that Support American Jobs

If a product is made in America, or if it supports American jobs – Walmart wants it on our shelves.

That’s the message we delivered Tuesday at our fourth U.S. Manufacturing Summit. Entrepreneurs from more than 40 states crowded into four buildings across our Bentonville, Arkansas campus to participate in 800 pitch meetings with our Sam’s Club, Walmart and Walmart.com buying teams.  As always, it was awesome to spend the day with people of all backgrounds united in the spirit of innovation and entrepreneurism.

Walmart has been on this journey since January 2013 when we announced our commitment to purchase an additional $250 billion of goods that support American jobs. This year was extra special, because we had a big surprise for our Open Callers. It was one beautiful word: “YES!” We said YES to virtually all items presented. If it can ship safely to a customer’s home, then we are, at a minimum, listing it on Walmart.com. Of course, many items will also be available on store shelves – in some cases just 40 stores, or 4,500 depending on customer demand and available supply. Whether you’re a family-owned start-up or a longtime supplier looking to expand production, the chance to sell YOUR product to the 140 million Americans Walmart serves each week is a game-changer.

So what’s in a yes for a new supplier to Walmart? Excitement. Tears of joy. Disbelief. And maybe some nervousness, thinking of the hard work required to meet the demand of a large retail order. I saw all of this and more. But what really stood out were the personal stories of the people that brought their American-made items to sell at Walmart. People I met, like:

  • Two innovators who, despite not knowing each other, shared a rental car and drove nearly all night to make their appointment when their late evening flight was cancelled
  • The teenage CEO who pitched her own product to buyers
  • Two brothers, one a policeman and one a fireman, whose barbecue sauce started as a local competition between the two civic forces

What we are doing matters for America. In fact, Boston Consulting Group estimates more than one million U.S. jobs will be created through our $250 billion commitment. It definitely matters to Walmart — it’s very much in our interest to lessen shipping times, and to support the communities we are part of. But most of all, it matters to our customers. Eighty-five percent say it’s important for retailers to carry products assembled or produced in the U.S.  As a merchant responsible for a host of categories including health and wellness, pets, baby and beauty, I know firsthand that if you give customers what they want at a great price, results will follow.

As I reflect on the personal stories and the impact this work is having on American jobs and communities, it’s easy to see why this year was special. There’s no doubt we’ve created additional momentum just by saying YES. And there’s no denying that work is a beautiful thing.

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U.S. Manufacturing

Helping Customers Make a Difference with Their Dollars

Today, at our home office in Bentonville we hosted our annual U.S. Manufacturing Summit and Open Call where we met with our suppliers and hundreds of potential suppliers who were here to pitch their American-made items to sell at Walmart. More than 2,000 people were registered to attend this event, and we had 800 buyer meetings scheduled as part of Open Call.

The Summit and Open Call are part of our $250 billion commitment to buy products that support American jobs. It’s having a tangible impact on communities. We’ve seen factories re-opened and jobs created in communities across America. And our customers love it because when they buy products made or assembled here, they can impact communities and be agents of change, too. They can create jobs with what they buy! This is no small thing to a busy Walmart customer. They can make a difference with their dollars.

In addition to creating jobs with what they buy, our customers can also do their part for the planet when they buy items made here. Here is a cool example: A company called Eco-tech is taking our icing containers that our in-store bakeries use to ice cakes – and they are recycling them to make pet bowls and even Easter baskets.

I love that model! It helps us run an everyday low cost business but also delivers great products for the customer that are sustainable and made here.  

And because we are making items closer to the customer, that’s fewer miles items have to travel. Once we have completed this initiative, we will have taken 2.5 million shipping containers off the water by making products closer to the point of sale.

Walmart is proud to lead this initiative. Making products here in America matters to Walmart, it matters to me and it matters to our customers. Working with our suppliers to find innovative products is what makes merchandising so fun. Look out for these great  items on our shelves and make a difference with your dollars.

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U.S. Manufacturing

One Man’s Role in Preserving a National Pastime

When Darrell Davilla isn’t helping manufacture camping gear, he’s putting it to good use.

Darrell started enjoying the outdoors when he was a young man. And now nothing makes him happier than taking his grandkids camping on the shores of the lakes around his home in Wichita, Kansas.

He treasures the cold mornings, brewing coffee and cooking for the whole family. “Making breakfast is my favorite part,” he said, patting his stomach, “as you can probably tell.”

As much as he enjoys passing on the traditions of outdoor recreation to his grandchildren, Darrell appreciates his part in keeping alive the tradition of excellence associated with his company, Coleman. “To work for a world-class company that is a top name in the outdoor business … it means a lot.”

An inventory controller, Darrell started working at Coleman when he was just 19 years old. This is his 37th year at the company that makes everything from tents to stoves. From lanterns to furniture, all the way to apparel.  And he’s incredibly grateful for such a firm foundation on which to raise a family.

Whether he’s on a forklift, getting parts into the hands of the men and women on the assembly line, or on a computer, keeping track of inventory, Darrell feels good that quality camping gear, the very gear he uses himself, is making its way to families, often through Walmart stores.

He also appreciates that when Coleman brings manufacturing to the U.S., and when Walmart buys from U.S. companies like Coleman, that it means more jobs all over the country.

From Darrell’s perspective, that translates into more people who have the luxury to take their families on adventures in the great outdoors. Keeping traditions alive, like cooking over a roaring fire.

It’s a cherished part of Darrell’s camping trips with the grandkids.  “Except for making s’mores,” he said. “I’m not too good at that.”

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